The Local Government Ombudsman has launched a damning report on local authorities failure to support family and friends Carers.
A damning report on Family and Friends Care from Local Government Ombudsman can be seen here.
Commenting Nigel Priestley said “Family and friends cares contact us from across the country. Many Carers find that they suddenly have to take responsibility for grandchildren, nephews or nieces or friends children.
Only today I have seen a 70 year old retired pilot who has taken responsibility for his 11 year old grandchild who was abandoned by his mentally ill daughter at school. Out of the blue he took on a caring role with his wife. And then he ran slap bang into a local authority that was determined to view this a private family arrangement. His grandson has been emotionally damaged and needs special support in school.
He is typical of the Carers who contact us. At the moment we are getting 8-10 new contacts each week. As a trustee of the Family Rights Group I know the pressure that their telephone Advice Line is under.
Family and friends Carers simply do not know the rights and responsibilities of local authorities. In our experience it has been necessary to force local authorities to accept their responsibilities.
As a firm we have brought a series of Judicial Reviews in relation to the rights of Family and Friends Carers. Local authorities seem to prefer fighting Carers and spending council tax payers money rather than addressing the needs of the children and their Carers.
Ridley and Hall have been at the forefront of ensuring that local authorities fulfil their duties to family and friends Carers.
Of the 5 key cases that govern the rights of grandparent and kinship Carers , 3 have been brought by my firm -
We brought an action against Kent which went to the Court of Appeal on the issue of s20 Children Act.It is the leading case. It is vital that children are recognised as looked after children. It’s not simply in relation to guaranteed financial support. It ensures access to school and support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Carers have their own social workers. They get access to training and support groups.
We succeeded in the Court of Appeal in July in a landmark decision against Tower Hamlets which means that family and friends foster Carers are entitled to the same fees as foster Carers.
We successfully challenged Kirklees policy of paying Special Guardianship Allowances at 2/3 the rate of fostering allowances.
As a result of the need for accessible quality advice we launched the Grandparents Legal Centre
We have recovered over £1 million in back payments for family and friends Carers.
Nigel Priestley is a trustee of Family Rights Group and this year was named Legal Champion of the Year at Grandparents Plus Kinship Care Awards. He was awarded National Solicitor of the Year Award in 2010 in the Law Society Excellence Awards
You can find Nigel’s profile here.