5. Payments to kinship carers
Kinship carers applying for Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment can show they are responsible for a child through getting Child Benefit, Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit for the child. However, not all kinship carers can get these benefits for the child. For example, kinship carers caring for a child who is looked after by the local authority are not eligible for the child element of Universal Credit.
So that they do not as a consequence miss out on entitlement to Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment, there is another way of showing responsibility for the child – through being a 'kinship carer' as defined in the rules. Draft regulations 2(2)(b), 3(2) and 4(3) extend the 'kinship care' definition to include kinship carers who are not related to the child, a category recognised in the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009.
It is right to be as inclusive as possible to ensure no kinship carer is inadvertently left unable to access this support. There are an estimated 12 630 children in Scotland who are raised by kinship carers. In taking on this responsibility they are creating considerable savings for the state. A kinship care role can often result in financial, practical and emotional challenges for the individual with consequences for the kinship carer's wellbeing and their ability to stay in or return to work. The Scottish Government has told SCoSS that it continues to consider whether there are other formal kinship care agreements not yet included.
Observation 2: There may be cross-border agreements such as special guardianship arrangements, which could apply to a child who moves from England to live with a kinship carer in Scotland. The Scottish Government could explore whether these should be added to the definition of 'kinship care' to ensure no kinship carer misses out on entitlement to the five Scottish family payments.
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