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Background Info

We are asking the Scottish Government, to keep to its manifesto promise “to continue their activity to assist kinship carers” across Scotland and to take swift action on introducing a fair allowance that is ring fenced for kinship carers with resourced support equable with fosters carers.  As the SNP Manifesto a commitment was made to “Work to secure proper recognition for kinship carers within the UK’s benefits and support system”.

There are currently estimated to be around 20,000 kinship carers across Scotland , looking after at least 15,000 children. Without the support and dedication of these kinship carers, many of these young people would end up in short and long term foster care, which both emotionally and financially is a poor alternative to a loving home and family.

Clacks Kinship Carers Group was founded in 2010, following Clackmannanshire Council’s decision to cut kinship care allowance to 67%  of the Scottish Government’s recommended pay structure , without any consultation with kinship carers. Clacks Kinship Carers recognises that Clackmannanshire Council was only one of two councils in 2008 in Scotland to introduce the recommended allowances, at a rate equivalent to payments made to foster carers.

Age of child Payments:
            Payment 1.4.09 (before cut) Payment at 1.3.10   Payment at 01.10.10
0 to 4 years               £121.68                £62.36                      £41.57
5 to 10 years             £138.61                £71.04                      £47.35
11 to 15 years           £172.55                £88.43                      £58.95
16 to 18 years           £209.86                £107.55                     £71.69

Rates from April 2011
0 to 4                       58.20
5 to 10                     66.29
11 to 15                    82.53 
16 to 18                   100.37

Monthly child benefit payments would be deducted as usual.  Child benefit for 1st child would be £20.25 per week then £13.51 per child for any others.

We ask the Scottish Government to recognise that a postcode lottery on Kinship Care is unacceptable and leads to health inequalities and impoverishment for the young people who are already vulnerable.  In light of the Government’s Change fund / reshaping care and the overall focus on caring within community and homes, supporting families and carers is cost effective for all concerned including the public purse.

The Clacks Kinship Carers group meets weekly to support each other on issues that affect them and have campaigned to highlight the ever increasing daily struggle that faces kinship carers and their looked after children. The group have held public meetings quarterly which Clackmannanshire Councillors, their officials including social services, education and NHS representatives attend. These open meetings have discussions about the challenges and explore avenues where the group and the council can work together to support kinship carers. The group have recently launched a monthly drop-in session open to all kinship carers who look after other members of their family’s children and need advice or information from a professional.

On the 5th March 2011 at Clackmannanshire Council’s Budget meeting, it was agreed to increase kinship carers’ allowances, from a range of £41 to £71 to a new range of £58 to £100 but only for one financial year i.e. 2011/2012, the amount still remains less than it originally was prior to the cut in January 2010. The 2009/2010 expenditure was £349,969 for kinship carers and £1,656,274 for foster carers .

The financial cost of foster care in Scotland in 2009/10 stood at £132 million, on average costing £29,000 per child.  For every £5 spent on foster care an equivalent of £1 is spent on kinship care.

Prior to the May 5th 2011 Scottish Parliament elections the Clacks Kinship Carers group wrote to all the major political parties to ask for kinship care to be included in each manifesto. All parties that responded, other than SNP gave no firm commitment to kinship cares but gave their support to carers generally.

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