old man holding a young child, Ombudsman finds local Council failed to support Special Guardian

A Special Guardian who agreed to care for a relative’s child when they no longer could is to be offered £30,000 after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) found the council did not do enough to help ease their overcrowded living conditions.

The kinship carer took over the care of a young relative under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO), which was arranged with the council. Initially, she had joint care of the child with her parents, but her parents struggled to cope and the child came to live with the woman full-time.

However, there was not enough space in the woman’s two-bedroomed property, which she shared with her adult son. The subject child was forced to share a bedroom with the woman. The council initially suggested that the adult son move out to a YMCA property to make room and offered the son a small amount to do so but both said this was not enough and the carer said she needed her son’s help to care for the child.

Alternatives were suggested, which included an extension to the woman’s current property or for her to rent out her home and then rent a larger property. Neither was suitable.

The woman was also asked to provide details of the amount it would cost to purchase a larger property over and above what she had paid for her two-bedroom property. But the council rejected this option as it was too costly.

The council offered the woman and her son increasing amounts for him to move out, but these were limited-time offers, would not have given him any security, and failed to recognise the importance of his caring help.

During the LGSCO investigation, the council increased its offer to the family to £30,000 to be used as either a deposit for a house or to support the adult son to move to a larger property.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council was not clear with the family about the support it would offer prior to them taking on the SGO. It also found there was a 12-month delay in completing a needs assessment.

The investigation also criticised the way the council failed to consider a detailed social work report, looking at the child’s welfare if the adult son moved out of the property. It had also not shown how it had calculated its financial support plan for the family, which was a fault.

In this case, the council agreed to apologise to the woman, pay her £30,000 for the accommodation and a further £500 to recognise the time and trouble she went to. The council also agreed to review how it agrees and arranges Special Guardianship Order support plans to ensure they are clear on the support, including financial help, it will provide. Furthermore, it will carry out training for members of panels that consider requests for SGO payments to ensure they are aware of the need to consider any social work reports and record the reasons for its decisions where it decides not to follow the social work recommendation.

For the Ombudsman’s report, click here.

If you are a relative or person being asked to be a kinship carer, then please contact Andrew Wraith at Prism Family Law for more information on 0191 269 6871 or email [email protected] for help. We can help apply for legal aid funding for such cases and even if funding is not readily available, we offer various options to consider to allow for you to be represented on a private fee-paying basis.


This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.