Immingham grandparents have won a legal challenge against North East Lincolnshire Council. The fight was over the failure of social services to provide financial support after they took on the care of their grandchild.
In 2008, Mr and Mrs G were asked to care for their grandson by North East Lincolnshire social services. Social services had been involved with the child for 2 years but repeatedly failed to step in to protect him.
Their grandson was just 4 years old at the time. Social services asked Mr and Mrs G to look after the child for 3 months. They then transported him to their house. Three months passed. Social services again asked them to look after the child for a few more weeks.
Around four months after social services had placed the boy with Mr and Mrs G, the social worker asked them to obtain a residence order. They never told Mr and Mrs G that they would be entitled to apply for residence allowance.
Five years passed before the council were challenged to face up to their responsibilities.
It was not until they went to see specialist kinship care solicitors, Ridley & Hall in Huddersfield, that they discovered that they were entitled to be paid residence allowance.
Commenting, Rebecca Chapman, a specialist solicitor at Ridley & Hall said:
“The council had more than enough grounds to start care proceedings. They saved themselves a fortune placing the child with my clients. Care proceedings are costly and paying foster carers gets very expensive.
“My clients asked the council to conduct a residence order allowance assessment but the local authority did not respond to their request.
“Mr and Mrs G then instructed me and the council stated that Mr and Mrs G were not eligible for an allowance.
“The local authority were asked to review the assessment but never responded. High Court proceedings were issued. The council did not provide a response to the proceedings.
“The High Court in Leeds has today ordered North East Lincolnshire to make a back payment of £43,000 and to pay Mr and Mrs G a weekly allowance.”
Mrs G said, “This is all my birthdays and Christmases on one day! It’s a fantastic result. We couldn’t have done it without Ridley & Hall.
“Like many grandparents we stepped in when the council asked us to help out. When the social services then asked us to get a court order we did as we were told. The council never told us that we should have been paid an allowance.
“My husband is 69. He’s long retired. We are pensioners. We had not planned to take on the care of a child in his retirement and have spent our savings on looking after my grandson. At times we’ve found it difficult to meet the financial demands of raising a child at this time in our lives.
“Add to that, the fact that unfortunately our grandson had some serious behavioural difficulties, and I can truthfully say it’s been a challenging time.
“We were struggling to cope with our grandson’s behaviour. The local authority had failed him and then they just left us to it. Our lives have been made more difficult with the council’s lack of action. It’s vital that grandparent carers like us get specialist legal advice.
“The council totally failed to fulfil their duties both to us and our grandson.”
Rebecca Chapman said “It’s disappointing for Mr and Mrs G that they had to go to the High Court to compel the local authority to do what they are already supposed to do. The local authority failed this child.
“There was a bizarre lack of response from the local authority in relation this claim. Nobody from social services even attended the hearing. As a result of the council burying their heads in the sand, the judge has ordered North East Lincolnshire to pay my clients’ costs. It’s the hard pressed council taxpayers who have ended up with a large bill of legal costs.”
If you would like any more information about this or any other kinship care issue, please call Ridley & Hall on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to Rebecca Chapman.