Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 24 Jul 2013
The council failed to recognise that when the complainant cared for her nephew, the child should have been considered as a ‘looked after child’ and the council should have provided her with appropriate financial support.
The council failed to recognise that when the complainant cared for her nephew, the child should have been considered as a ‘looked after child’ and the council should have provided her with appropriate financial support. She also complained that when she obtained a Special Guardianship Order for her nephew in 2012 the council’s decision as to what it should pay her was flawed.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.
The Council has agreed to take the following action to remedy the injustice.
- Pay the complainant the family and friends fostering allowance at the correct rate for the 18 months it now accepts her nephew (and for a period his two siblings) were placed with her under the Council’s duties to accommodate such children.
- Notify the complainant about what Special Guardianship Allowance rate it will pay her and why.
- Pay the complainant the Special Guardianship Allowance without the deduction of Child Benefit while she receives Income Support. It will also carry out a review of its practice of deducting Child Benefit from those on Income Support and the budgetary implications.
- Pay the complainant Special Guardianship Allowance at a rate equal to the National Minimum Fostering Allowance rate for children aged 0-4.
- As a result, the complainant was paid £10,912 in backdated allowances.
For the other people identified in this investigation as suffering an injustice as a result of fault by the council, the council has agreed to take the following action.
- Pay its Special Guardianship Allowance at the same rate as its Fostering Allowance rate from April 2010, and at a rate in line with the National Minimum Fostering Allowance from April 2011. This affects around 146 people who are in receipt of Special Guardianship Allowance.
- Pay all foster carers caring for children aged 0-4 Fostering Allowance in line with or above National Minimum Fostering Rates from April 2013. It has also agreed to backdate the allowance to ensure they receive the National Minimum Fostering Allowance rate from April 2011. This affects around 194 foster carers caring for children aged 0-4.
Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 12 June 2014