A Court has ruled that a grandmother should receive four years of backdated foster care allowance from a London borough after an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman found that the Royal Borough of Greenwich failed to make the grandmother aware that she was entitled to financial assistance for looking after her grandson.
It also found that the local authority had failed to carry out a financial assessment after the grandmother became aware of the allowance.
The grandchild was placed into its grandmother’s care after concerns were raised over the mother’s ability to care for the child.
Over the following four years, the council did not tell the grandmother about the financial assistance that might be available.
She informed the council that, despite being the primary carer, she could not afford to pay for new carpet or furniture and was sleeping on a mattress on the floor.
The Court also heard how she could not afford to pay for heating over the winter and was in debt through personal borrowing.
The Judge ruled that Greenwich council owed the grandmother a sum of £126 a week. Initially, claims to have the allowance backdated four years were denied, but were granted after a secondary investigation.
The Ombudsman said the authority had missed numerous opportunities between 2011 and 2015 to carry out assessments.
The council agreed to apologise to the grandmother, pay her as if she had been a friends and family foster carer from March 2011 to December 2015, and pay her an additional £500 in goodwill.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “When they are involved in making care arrangements, councils must give families clear information about the help available to them and who will be financially responsible for the child.
“Greenwich council missed numerous opportunities to help this grandmother and, when it did realise its duty towards her and her grandson, decided not to backdate the support she was due. This must have had a significant impact on the boy’s welfare.
“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations and hope the changes it has made will ensure other foster carers in the borough are not impacted in this way.
“We issued a report into councils’ duties towards friends and family foster carers in 2013, and this case serves as a timely reminder of the effects on vulnerable families when councils get things wrong.”