Cost of Living Crisis Crippling Kinship Carers
- 44% of kinship carers can’t afford to pay household bills
- 26% can’t afford food for their families
- 35% can’t afford clothes for the children
- 18% can’t afford rent or mortgage
Nearly nine in 10 (89%) kinship carers in England and Wales can’t afford household essentials for children like heating, food and clothes, as they don’t get the same financial support as foster carers, says a survey by the charity Kinship.
The lack of financial support combined with the cost-of-living crisis is crippling kinship carers, who are often forced to give up secure jobs and spend life savings and pensions to keep vulnerable children within the family.
Kinship’s survey of 1,435 kinship carers (who are caring for 2,006 children), revealed that 44% could not afford to pay bills, 26% food for their families, 35% clothes for the children and 18% rent or mortgage payments.
Worryingly, 33% of kinship carers were concerned the severe financial strain might prevent them from caring for their children, leaving them at risk of entering the care system.
The majority (72%) said the growing financial pressure was taking a toll on their physical and mental health and 33% believed it was negatively affecting the child’s physical and mental health too.
With the summer school holidays just around the corner, almost half (45%) said they could not afford to pay for any activities for their children and 31% could not buy basic educational items like school uniforms, books and pencils.
Unlike foster carers, kinship carers – family members and friends who care for children when their parents aren’t able to – do not receive a financial allowance to help them cover the costs of raising a child. Kinship wants the Government to act urgently and provide kinship families with a standard non-means tested financial allowance.
Kinship carer Laura, 33 from West Sussex, who is raising her two half siblings said:
“I’ve survived on food banks, school food vouchers and family help. I don’t have any spare money – it all goes on gas and electricity bills which have gone up from £91 to £200 per month.
“I’m now in arrears with the rent because I’m struggling to pay the energy bills and I’m getting threatening letters from the housing department saying debit collectors will come round.
“The children need new school uniforms and other essentials but I’m having to cut those to keep the debt collectors from the door. If I’d received a financial allowance, it would have made a huge difference to all our lives and given us a sense of financial security.
“We willingly give up our lives to keep families together, but we need the Government to recognise kinship carers and give us the financial and emotional support we all need.”
Kinship, chief executive, Dr Lucy Peake said:
“It’s deeply shocking that kinship carers are doing their very best to keep children with the people who love them but can’t afford to buy them daily essentials like food and clothes as they are left to manage with no financial support.
“Pushed into poverty, the financial strain means many kinship families are worried they may have to give up the care of the children. This would be a massive tragedy that is entirely preventable.
“We know it’s best for children to stay within their own families where they are loved, safe and secure rather than go into the care system but raising a child costs money. It’s only right that kinship carers receive the same non-means tested financial support as foster carers.
“The Government must act with urgency and implement the recommendations made by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care and provide kinship carers and their children with the financial support they clearly so desperately need.”
Kinship carers look after 162,400 vulnerable children in England and Wales more than double the number of children in foster care.
Kinship is the leading kinship care charity in England and Wales. We’re here for all kinship carers. The family members and friends who step up to raise children when their parents aren’t able to. We want every kinship family to have the recognition, value and support they need and deserve.
We offer kinship carers financial, legal, practical and emotional support and understanding from the moment they need it, for as long as they need it. Our expert advice, information and guidance helps with complicated and stressful decisions that so many kinship families have to make. We’re always there to support them through difficult times and celebrate the good. Kinship carers are strong and determined. Together, they are powerful.
We help them build communities of support and action by connecting families locally and across England and Wales. We’re at the heart of kinship networks, partnering with and influencing service providers, local and national government and other organisations. We give everything we have to fight for each family and their rights, changing society until every kinship family is recognised, valued and supported.
A survey that explored the financial circumstances of kinship carers and the extent of financial support was shared widely with kinship carers in England and Wales between 21 February 2022 and 17 March 2022.There were responses from 1,435 kinship carers who were caring for 2,006 children. Qualitative data were analysed using Form Assembly software and Microsoft Excel. Written responses were analysed thematically. Kinship foster carers were not included in the survey as they should already receive the national minimum fostering allowance.
Last year Kinship’s advice team supported 3,609 kinship carers or 3,804 cases.
- 2,248 of our cases involved advising on an element of financial needs (60%)
Click here for the full financial allowances report
Kinship wants all kinship carers to receive a universal, standard, non-means tested allowance that matches the current national minimum fostering allowance (which is £137 per week for the year from April 2022 to April 2023) until the child reaches 18.
The financial support currently offered to kinship families is inadequate and patchy. A large proportion do not receive any financial support and have been abandoned to cope alone. For those families who do receive a financial allowance, there is a hierarchy based on the legal status of the child and on where the family lives, rather than on need. An overwhelming proportion of the families who do receive some financial support do not receive enough to cover the cost of meeting their child’s needs.
For more information call 07984 600234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the website www.kinship.org.uk