Improve consistency and transparency in the delivery of child allowances
There was consensus from the consultation responses and among Group members that improvement in accessing information about allowances is required as currently, carers did not feel well equipped. The survey findings highlighted that approximately one third of respondents (36%) stated that they find it easy/very easy to access relevant information, with the number falling (23%) among kinship carers. The Group felt that a standardised approach to guidance would be beneficial for carers and young people to address the issue of insufficient information around entitlement to and purpose of allowances. With regard to a Scottish Recommended Allowance, the survey results highlighted overwhelming support, with 92% of respondents in favour. In developing this recommendation, the Group considered different methodologies utilised across the UK and beyond and agreed that the Child Poverty Action Group’s Cost of a Child survey, as well as the Household Expenditure model, most recently taken forward in developing the Welsh National Recommended Allowance were favourable models. The Group also agreed that the needs of children in foster and kinship care are often greater than for a child who is not care-experienced and that any allowance should reflect this. This approach was consistent with consultation findings, where 94% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with this approach. National allowances in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently include a 50% uplift of the cost of a child. As part of the Group’s approach, young people were asked about their understanding of allowances and they felt that information for carers should be clear and easy to read, either online or in leaflet form. They also thought that their carers should have as much information as possible to support them in their role.
|Rec 1||All foster and kinship carers should have a clear understanding about what the allowance for children in kinship and foster care is intended to cover. Any information should be clear, relevant and readily available via local authority and other providers’ websites and via other means for those who do not have access to the internet.|
|Rec 2||Adoptive agencies should ensure that prospective adopters are made aware at the earliest opportunity within the adoption process about the purpose of an adoption allowance, as well as the process for applying.|
|Rec 3||To achieve consistency for children and young people in foster and kinship care, Scottish Government and COSLA should consider a Scottish Recommended Allowance, based on a methodology agreed by the Working Group, in order to meet the list of core components identified by the Group.|
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