08:38 Thursday 03 January 2013

High court victory for Swadlincote gran's carer cash case

Written byBY HELEN KREFT

A GRANDMOTHER from Swadlincote has won permission from a high court judge to challenge a council over its carers allowance.

The 67-year-old, who cares for her 13-year-old grandson, and at one stage was also caring for her granddaughter, receives a residence allowance from Derbyshire County Council, which is just 58 per cent of a fostering allowance. However, with the help of Ridley and Hall - a specialist grandparent carers solicitors, she will now challenge the policy, saying it would have cost the county council a fortune putting the children into foster care.

The children were placed with her in 2000 by Social Services who encouraged her to apply for a residence order, as the children’s’ parents were not able to properly care for them.

Nigel Priestley, senior partner at Ridley and Hall, said the council has ‘deliberately chosen to get childcare on the cheap’.

After he discovered the grandmother’s payment, he then found fostering allowances are £156 a week, and a council report dated July 26, 2011 which said ‘residence order allowances will be maintained at 58 per cent of fostering allowances although it is possible that these will be subject to future legal challenge’.

He said: “Derbyshire appear to have a habit of moving grandparents caring for their grandchildren onto residence orders. The county council at best then pays a residence allowance, which is 58 per cent of the fostering allowance, at just over £70 per week. Derbyshire has deliberately chosen to get child care on the cheap.”

Following a judicial review application, His Honour Judge Behrens has granted permission for the grandmother to challenge the council’s policy.

This is an important case – Derbyshire is not alone in paying grandparent carers with residence orders significantly less than foster carers.”

The grandmother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I am 67 and survive on my pension. It would have cost the county council a fortune if they had had to put my grandchildren into foster care.”

A council spokesman said: “We stress that this situation is not unique to Derbyshire and we continually monitor and review our payments and allowances, in line with national guidance and changes made as a result of case law. Our carers are very important to us and we do everything possible to offer them the best professional support and financial allowances that we can.”

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