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Social Security Support for Kinship Carers

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 18th October 2017.

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Photo of Melanie Onn Melanie Onn Shadow Minister (Housing) 11:00 am, 18th October 2017

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered social security support for kinship carers.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Owen. There are about 200,000 kinship carers in the UK, three quarters of whom live in poverty. By taking in their relatives’ children they save the state tens of thousands of pounds in care costs and keep families together, often in tragic circumstances. Research suggests that children living in kinship care also have better outcomes than children fostered by non-relatives.

According to a report by the University of Bristol,

“Children in kinship care are more likely to have better mental health and behavioural outcomes due to the stability of placements and they are also more likely to preserve their identities through family and community ties.”

Yet although foster carers receive extra support from the state for their efforts, kinship carers are often denied even the bare minimum. According to the Family Rights Group, the majority have to give up work completely or temporarily to look after the children they take in. As a consequence, kinship carers have been disproportionately affected by the benefit cap. They are more likely to be unfairly sanctioned, because of the lack of joined-up working in the state system. For example, their appointments at the jobcentre might be scheduled at the same time as their meetings with a social worker—if they are lucky enough to get a social worker—none of which they are allowed to miss or move.