IN FEBRUARY this year Tommy McFall, a vociferous Kinship Care campaigner from East Glasgow, and a carer himself, gave evidence to the Education and Culture Committee on the unjust disparity of support between children in Foster Care and those in Kinship Care. The committee took the issue seriously and followed up his presentation by launching an informal investigation into the postcode lottery for Kinship support between Local Authorities and between Foster and Kinship Carers within them. They wrote to each Local Authority, the Minister for Children and Young People, COSLA and the Department for Work and Pensions and asked them to respond to a number of questions.
The resulting responses make up the most revealing evidence of the postcode lottery yet, with payments for Foster Carers coming out way above Kinship in almost every case, and financial and non financial support for Kinship Carers also varying massively. For example Highland Council pays a £400 starter grant, £200 for summer holidays and £100 for christmas to each child in Kinship Care on top of a weekly grant, whereas North Ayrshire pays £400 per week to foster carers and only £55 to kinship carers. Glasgow still comes out at the bottom of the list paying foster carers an average of £175/week and kinship carers just £50.
On 20th March the committee considered the evidence they had received. The discussion they had was kept private but with such compelling evidence of unfair treatment of Scotland's most vulnerable children the committee should hopefully be moved to act. At the same time the petitions committee discussed the Clackmannanshire carers petition and decided to refer it to the Education and Culture Committee for further consideration.
See papers of 20th March 2012 at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/29802.aspx for the full responses from 24 councils.