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Lib Dem Munira Wilson MP introduces new Bill to step up support for Kinship Carers

July 6, 2022 9:21 AM
By Jerry Roodhouse

Munira WilsonOn Tuesday 5th July, Liberal Democrat education and children's spokesperson Munira Wilson MP will introduce the Kinship Care Bill during a debate in the House of Commons.

Munira Wilson MP will use her debate to call 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 £137 a week: the same level as for foster carers.

The Bill has the backing of Lib Dem leader Ed Davey MP, who was raised by his grandparents, Conservative Education Select Committee chair Robert Halfon MP and former Children's Minister Tim Loughton MP.

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 turn their lives upside down to provide a child with a loving, stable home, when the alternative is often local authority care.

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.

Every child that goes into kinship care instead of local authority care could save the taxpayer more than £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.

Munira's Bill will:

  • 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.

The debate comes shortly after the launch of a survey by the charity Kinship, which revealed that kinship carers were particularly feeling the bite of the cost-of-living crisis:

  • 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.

Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson said:

"Every year, thousands of friends and relatives make huge personal and financial sacrifices when they step up to support a child in crisis. Yet 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 Government should back my Bill to provide these carers with the financial and practical support their children need. Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers, so we can provide their children with a better start in life, no matter their background.

The charity Kinship has estimated that it costs £72,500 a year to care for a looked-after child, compared to £36,795 to provide a kinship care family with a social worker and a weekly allowance: https://kinship.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Out-of-the-Shadows-2022-WEB-003.pdf