The Kinship Care Alliance (KCA) responds to the change to welfare benefits for kinship carers who look after children unable to live with their parents:
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 08:26
22.06.2012- The Kinship Care Alliance (KCA)* responds to the change to welfare benefits for kinship carers who look after children unable to live with their parents:
The Kinship Care Alliance responds to the change to welfare benefits for kinship carers who look after children unable to live with their parents:
“The Kinship Care Alliance warmly welcomes the announcement by Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, of a year’s exemption from conditionality under Universal Credit for grandparents, older siblings, aunts and uncles and other relatives and friends (kinship) carers who are taking on the responsibility for bringing up children who are unable to live with their parents.
“This is a measure that the Kinship Care Alliance strongly campaigned for when the Welfare Reform Act was going though Parliament, with the help of family and friends carers, MPs and Peers across political parties. We would like to thank everyone who has participated in our campaign.
“Family and friends carers provide children, who would otherwise be in the care system, with a secure and loving family, at considerable savings to the public purse. Research shows that 38% of carers have to give up work when children move in, and many are forced into poverty as a result. This concession will mean that for a year at least carers, rather than face a benefits penalty for not actively seeking work, will be able to spend their time prioritising the settling in of vulnerable children who may have suffered trauma or abuse and who may have moved school as well as home. It will provide a degree of reassurance that we hope will encourage family members to continue to step forward when children can no longer live with birth parents
“We also welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement of the major sacrifices family and friends carers make in helping children in difficult situations to remain in a family environment.
*Grandparents Association is part of the KCA: The Kinship Care Alliance is an informal network of voluntary organisations, local authorities and academics working with or having an interest in family and friends care. The Alliance has been meeting since 2006 and is led by the Family Rights Group. The Kinship Care Alliance campaigns for greater recognition, respect and reward for family and friends (‘kinship’) carers. They emphasise that children being raised by their grandparents are in a unique situation and the contribution that family and friends carers make, due to a deep commitment and love, to the lives of these children, is often at great expense to their own emotional and physical health as well as financial circumstances.
Lord Freud: Universal Credit support for grandparent carers
Grandparents, who are not yet retired, relations and family friends who take on the full-time care of a child will not be expected to look for work when the new Universal Credit comes into force, the Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud has announced.
Universal Credit will recognise that kinship carers play an important role looking after children whose own parents can’t care for them, and they will have their requirement to look for work substantially relaxed.
These carers, who claim Universal Credit and who would normally be expected to look for a job, will not be required to search for work for 12 months.
Lord Freud said: “Kinship carers make major sacrifices for their family and friends and help children in difficult situations to remain in a family environment – instead of in the care system. I am determined that the benefits system recognises this Important contribution.
“We know that taking on a caring role can be a real challenge and that’s why we will give grandparents and other kinship carers the proper time to adjust."
Kinship carers who undertake the full-time care of a child will only be expected to undertake work focused interviews for 12 months after taking on a child.
Currently, kinship carers who are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance can only have their jobseeking conditions relaxed for a short period – when they face a domestic emergency.
Kinship carers, sometimes known as family and friends carers, look after children outside the care system because their parents are no longer able to fulfil that role.
They often experience significant disruption and upheaval in their lives to take care of a vulnerable child, including giving up work or reducing hours, and it is right that the benefits system reflects this.
• The average age that people become grandparents for the first time is 49.
• People who attended work focused interviews – such as foster carers and lone parents with children aged 1 to 5 – receive support to keep in touch with the jobs market through regular interviews with a Jobcentre Plus personal adviser.
• Their personal advisor will provide help to get into employment, training to develop new skills or work experience that might be needed.
Universal Credit will also provide support for carers and foster carers:
• Carers’ Allowance will continue to be paid outside of Universal Credit and carers who meet the carers test, will also receive a carers’ element as part of their UC award. This will be paid as long as they provide care for at least 35 hours per week for a severely disabled person.
• Unlike the current system this element will continue even when earnings exceed £100 per week.
• Single foster carers will only be required to attend Work Focused Interviews and won’t be required to find work until the foster child reaches the age of 16 – foster carer couples will nominate a primary carer and the same rules will apply.
• Foster carers who are between placements will not be required to look for work for up to eight weeks so long as they can show their intention to carry on fostering.
• In exceptional circumstances, where a foster child has proven care needs that require full-time care by two adults they will both be excused from their work-focused interviews until the child leaves the foster home.
Universal Credit Background:
• Universal Credit will be introduced from 2013. This single benefit will replace the current complex myriad of means-tested benefits.
• It will be simpler for people to navigate and harder for people to defraud, but most importantly it will make work pay.
• Universal Credit will replace income-based JSA, income-related ESA, Income Support (including SMI), Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
• 2.8 million households will have higher entitlements as a result of Universal Credit.
• Over 1.3 million households will have an increase in entitlements of more than £25 a week.
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