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Stepping up support for Kinship Carers

July 6, 2022 10:14 AM
By Munira Wilson
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Each year, thousands of grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and family friends step up to support a child who is unable to live with their birth parents. They deserve more support.

Yesterday, I introduced the Kinship Care Bill in the House of Commons. This bill calls on the Government to provide all friends and relatives who look after a child who cannot live with their birth parents with an allowance of at least Β£137 a week: the same level as for foster carers.

Each year, thousands step up to support a child who is unable to live with their birth parents. They turn their lives upside down to provide a child with a loving, stable home, when the alternative is often local authority care.

Government policy treats kinship carers as a Cinderella service"

This often comes at a huge personal and financial sacrifice. Many give up their careers or pension savings. They are left to face the challenge of looking after a child who may well have suffered abuse or neglect.

As the cost-of-living crisis bites, kinship carers should not have to choose between paying the bills and looking after a loved one.

The cost of living is hitting kinship carers hard. A survey by charity Kinship revealed:

  • 44% of carers surveyed said that they could not pay all their household bills;
  • 18% could not keep up with rent or mortgage payments;
  • 26% could not afford food for their families.

Every child that goes into kinship care instead of local authority care could save the taxpayer more than Β£35,000 a year. Yet Government policy treats kinship carers as a Cinderella service, denying most of them the support received by foster carers or adoptive parents.

My Kinship Care Bill would:

  • Provide a weekly allowance to all kinship carers at the same level as for foster carers;
  • Give kinship carers the right to paid leave when a child starts living with them;
  • Support the education of children in kinship care, such as by giving them Pupil Premium Plus funding and priority for their first choice of school.

Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers, so we can provide their children with a better start in life, no matter their background.