SGO

(26 Posts)
Mum2lots Fri 05-Jul-13 18:36:30

Hi has anyone got any update on SGO's mainly the finances I believe some LA's are now paying FC allowance and role related allowance until 18 most of the stuff iv read is out of date and still saing 2 years ?

auntycupcake Fri 05-Jul-13 23:11:24

hi there...i have just applied for a SGO for my niece who has been with me under interim care orders since march 2013. with our LA the finance you receive is means tested and you have a review annually. the LA have to carry out a financial assessment as part of a SGO application and this includes giving usual info such as wage slips, bank statements, mortgage/rent amount/childcare costs. my main concern with the finances came down to the amount of money i needed for childcare expenses. when the financial assessment came back it showed that i was only entitled to a total amount of 12 pounds per week plus child benefit!! at this point i informed the LA that unless they were able to provide more finances towards childcare costs (over 200 pounds per week) then i would not go any further with the SGO application. the LA have since funded a solicitor for me as part of my SGO application and we have settled the finances! my solicitor worked out that the LA hadnt taken the childcare costs into consideration afterallangry so its always worth asking to see a breakdown of how they have reached the entitlement. if i understand correctly my LA will pay up to approx 150 pounds per week. from my experiences...never accept any amount of money until you are completely satisfied and you have everything in writing....without my solicitor i think i would be facing a financial crisis once all my savings had disappeared! in terms of how long the allowance is paid for i am under the impression it is as long as it is identified in your annual review? but yet again this is something i havent really had explained to me/asked about...but will definitely be a phonecall on monday morning! hope this helps smile

Mum2lots Fri 05-Jul-13 23:53:57

Thankyou xxx

NanaNina Sat 13-Jul-13 23:44:13

I am interested in this issue of finance attached to an SGO. I am a retired social worker and for the last 5 years of a career spanning 30 years in all, I worked independently and carried out SGO assessments for LAs. I was aware that the LA had to carry out an assessment of the needs of the applicant (including finance) and I'm pretty sure that in the SGO Regs it states that a LA should continue to pay fostering allowances for a child who was previously a LookedAftered child, but for 2 years only.

I may be out of date (last worked in 2009) but certainly the LA that I was working for was offering fostering allowances for 2 years. This concerned me but as I was only commissioned to carry out the assessments I was no longer involved once the assessment was complete. Rarely I gave evidence at the final hearing if I was unable to give a positive recommendation.

I am concerned that as far as I know, any finance attached to SGOs is discretionary and is as Auntycupcake says means tested, and is subject to an annual review, where the amount can be decreased or stopped altogether. The only payments that are mandatory are fostering allowances. Social workers told applicants who I was assessing that they would get finance for the whole of the child's life but this was not the case given the discretionary nature of these allowances. Aunty I am still concerned about your situation because you are unclear about how long the allowance will be paid for and say you think it is "as long as it is identified in your annual review" but that means it is for 12 months, and that is the purpose of the annual review as I understand it.

I did hear from some applicants that I assessed that the children's guardian had argued in court that the family needed to be assured of finance until the children reached the age of 16 years, and I was told that the Judge agreed with this, and it was actually written into the court documentation attached to the SGO.

There is a clause in the SGO Regs that says "no placement should break down through lack of finance" but the only way holders of SGOs are going to have to get this back into court is by way of Judicial Review and of course Legal Aid will not be available and most people are not going to have any idea of how to proceed.

I am cynical because LAs are horrendously under resourced (worse since the coalition have slashed all the budgets) and they are going to have to make cuts here there and everywhere and while any allowance is discretionary I think that there is a risk that it could be lowered or withdrawn altogether.

Will be interested on any update you have on this ACC or anyone else?

auntycupcake Mon 15-Jul-13 20:05:51

hi nananina! we seem to keep bumping into each other on here smile i have spoken to my solicitor and have asked him for all of this to be put into writing before the final court hearing at the end of august. i am too synical about the whole two year period which is why i want it put into writing! i have learnt from my mistakes of not having things in writing from LA. will keep you updated! grin

NanaNina Mon 15-Jul-13 20:37:12

Sorry Aunty I don't remember us "talking" but that's because my memory is crap these days - if it wasn't for friends of my age saying that the forget things so much I would think dementia was round the corner!

I'm glad you've spoken to your solicitor, but the only way the financial terms attached to the SGO can be "written in" before the final hearing is if the LA agree that they will fund until the child is 16 years. IF they agree and this forms part of the Assessment of Need that they have to complete alongside the SGO then you should be ok.

I am assuming that you will have met with the child's guardian and sometimes they can be very influential in court. It might be an idea to mention the funding issue to him/her.

Yes continue to be cynical!! And look forward to your update!

libbyharry Sat 14-Sep-13 17:44:34

Just read your thread & SS told me that allowances for SGO would be paid until child was 18 . Hope things went well for you!

NanaNina Sun 15-Sep-13 17:57:36

Hello again LH(!) I think if the LA have said this it needs to be in writing and made clear in court at the time the Order is made. The reason I say this is because in the Regs it states that when a child has been in the care of the LA previously, then allowances should continue to be paid for 2 years. However I was involved in a case where the grandparents said they could not afford to keep the children if they didn't receive allowances throughout their childhood. There was an excellent guardian involved and she brought this to the attention of the Judge and it was written into the court documents.

The only allowance which is mandatory is the fostering allowance, and Adoption Allowances are discretionary, as are SGOs and ROs and are reviewed annually. There is something in the REgs for SGOs that states no placement should break down because of lack of funding, but once you have the SGO you are no longer anything to do with the LA and you have the PR for the child. It would mean the only way you could get this matter before the court would be by way of judicial review and that would need a lawyer and hefty legal costs.

I have heard sws tell relatives that they will pay till the children are 18 but some of them don't realise with the Regs say...........SO get it in writing and ensure that it is included in the court papers. Alongside the Assessment for the SGO, the LA have to complete an "assessment of need" on the applicants and this includes financial need. This assessment goes to court with all the other documents and if the LA are saying they will pay till the child is 18 (I would have thought 16) then this is where it should be written into that "assessment of need" and the rate that they intend to pay should be included (fostering rates maybe) so that you have something in writing should the LA attempt to stop or decrease payments. Mind I have a feeling that they will be reluctant to commit themselves to fostering rates through the child's lifetime.

I think in your case LH because of the child's complex health needs it is all the more important that you get this sorted out, once the other matter has been sorted!

sweetmelissa Sun 15-Sep-13 20:35:58

Last week was the annual review of our long term foster child. His SW told us quietly that they were told by their bosses to "persuade" all foster carers in our position to go for an SGO. As Nananina and others state, the fostering allowance would only be guaranteed for two years (though they were to be positive with carers that it was likely to continue). Later when it was discussed in the review the chair mentioned that it was not just the fostering allowance itself which needed to be considered, but also there would be no help when they reached 18 - apparently there is help for children in care who want to further their education/help for university fees. Also any problems that occur in childhood - medical, educational, psychological - as a child in care priority can be given, but with a SGO there would be no such priority.

NanaNina Mon 16-Sep-13 11:41:31

Hi SM This issue was brought up in reviews of long term fostered children when I was still working for the LA and I retired in 2004! It was being sprung upon them by the IRO at their actual review and I was furious and made a big fuss about it, but tm mgrs. were being told by snr mgrs. to "encourage" permanent carers to apply for a Residence Order. This was before the SGO was implemented as it did not come into force until early 2006.

This "persuasion" of which you speak, is of course purely a cost cutting exercise. Not sure what you mean by "though they were positive with carers that it was likely to continue" - does that mean they were to tell carers that it would continue until the child reached 16, whilst at the same time knowing this was not the case?? If so that is horrendous.

It seems the IRO and the SW Mgrs were "barking up a different tree" and the IRO was attempting to protect carers from accepting this change in arrangements. I think the IRO was absolutely right to point out that once an SGO is made the child/ren are no longer "on the books" and the PR is held by the carers, and therefore they would not get any help needed throughout the child's life, as they would (though not necessarily) if the child remained in foster care. Some LAs are trying to pretend that this is in the best interests of the children i.e. "a child shouldn't spend their childhood in the care of the LA authority and be subjected to 6 monthly reviews etc etc" - I think this is hypocritical and told Snr Mgrs exactly what I thought when this was raised.

The main worry is about funding. As I said in my last post as far as I am aware the LA only have to fund for the first 2 years of a SGO. However I was involved in a case where the carers were clear that they couldn't afford to apply for an SGO unless they were sure of funding and it was agreed in court.

I think there is funding made available to children on an SGO when they are 16 in the same way that it is available to children who are fostered. This is contained in the Leaving Care Act 2000 and I am fairly certain that it is in the Regs of the SGO that this same kind of help should be made available. The LA lawyers need to look at this issue. Mind having said that I do wonder just how much help is being given to young people leaving the care system, as cuts are being made in every corner of the service.

My advice would be to stick to your guns and don't trust anything that a sw or tm mgr says about funding! I worked independently for 5 years between 2004 and 2009 and carried out a lot of SGO reports and I always made it clear to the applicants about the funding. On several occasions the applicants would say that the LA had told them "not to worry" and they would be paid just the same as foster carers. I would then speak to the LA sw and very often they thought that SGO allowances were the same as fostering allowances. I would suggest to them that they read the Regs.

It still pays the LA to have permanent carers applying for SGOs because they don't need to provide a sw for the child, and the case is closed.

NanaNina Mon 16-Sep-13 11:43:29

Hi SM This issue was brought up in reviews of long term fostered children when I was still working for the LA and I retired in 2004! It was being sprung upon them by the IRO at their actual review and I was furious and made a big fuss about it, but tm mgrs. were being told by snr mgrs. to "encourage" permanent carers to apply for a Residence Order. This was before the SGO was implemented as it did not come into force until early 2006.

This "persuasion" of which you speak, is of course purely a cost cutting exercise. Not sure what you mean by "though they were positive with carers that it was likely to continue" - does that mean they were to tell carers that it would continue until the child reached 16, whilst at the same time knowing this was not the case?? If so that is horrendous.

It seems the IRO and the SW Mgrs were "barking up a different tree" and the IRO was attempting to protect carers from accepting this change in arrangements. I think the IRO was absolutely right to point out that once an SGO is made the child/ren are no longer "on the books" and the PR is held by the carers, and therefore they would not get any help needed throughout the child's life, as they would (though not necessarily) if the child remained in foster care. Some LAs are trying to pretend that this is in the best interests of the children i.e. "a child shouldn't spend their childhood in the care of the LA authority and be subjected to 6 monthly reviews etc etc" - I think this is hypocritical and told Snr Mgrs exactly what I thought when this was raised.

The main worry is about funding. As I said in my last post as far as I am aware the LA only have to fund for the first 2 years of a SGO. However I was involved in a case where the carers were clear that they couldn't afford to apply for an SGO unless they were sure of funding and it was agreed in court.

I think there is funding made available to children on an SGO when they are 16 in the same way that it is available to children who are fostered. This is contained in the Leaving Care Act 2000 and I am fairly certain that it is in the Regs of the SGO that this same kind of help should be made available. The LA lawyers need to look at this issue. Mind having said that I do wonder just how much help is being given to young people leaving the care system, as cuts are being made in every corner of the service.

My advice would be to stick to your guns and don't trust anything that a sw or tm mgr says about funding! I worked independently for 5 years between 2004 and 2009 and carried out a lot of SGO reports and I always made it clear to the applicants about the funding. On several occasions the applicants would say that the LA had told them "not to worry" and they would be paid just the same as foster carers. I would then speak to the LA sw and very often they thought that SGO allowances were the same as fostering allowances. I would suggest to them that they read the Regs.

It still pays the LA to have permanent carers applying for SGOs because they don't need to provide a sw for the child, and the case is closed.

NanaNina Mon 16-Sep-13 11:44:22

Sorry for duplicating post!

hackneyLass Sat 21-Sep-13 17:43:13

Hi Mum2lots, aunty and all

I'm angling to get the badge for "bizarrest financial support offer from a LA" smile. Support plan finally landed on our doormat this Thursday for our SGO hearing which starts on Monday. The LA has offered financial support only "till the youngest child reaches school age". Eh? so DCs' need for financial support evaporates then, only a few months after they come to us? Even though SWs said I should stop work for 18 months to 2 years?

Presumably they expect we will shut up and accept to save them money: SW often tells us support is dictated by (arbitrary) limits set by the LA rather than financial or other need - or in fact case law (and inferred that we are lucky to get what they have offered, snort). Also the Support Plan just states a weekly amount with no detail of how it's worked out, if it takes into account my loss of income and increased costs (from moving to larger home). And very sketchy about other ongoing support for DCs we verbally agreed with the SW.

The LA must think we are idiots or pushovers. We are neither. Tsk, they've taken a year to get to this hearing, now they want us to sign the support plan in 2 days. Obviously we are not going to [rolls up sleeves]. We'll get the right support plan for the DCs with the LA or despite the LA. The more they try to make us sign an inadequate support plan at short notice without advice, the more I know how important it is. Every time they say "you don't need to worry about that" or "you don't need that in writing" I so know I do.

The LA has also been playing silly games saying we don't need legal representation or even advice (till the judge made them and even then it was for less than an hour), we don't need to come to the hearing, forgetting to tell us where the hearing is etc. It all just makes us stronger & fight harder for the DCs.

Do they not know that I have the full collective knowledge & experience of MN on my side?

So to Mum2lots and others going through this SGO process - keep strong and don't be pushed around, don't let LAs behave shabbily! And I will happily make badges for you all smile!

[And, more practically, once we've had the hearing I'll let you know what they have offered us in financial and other support, as I think transparency helps. Other than "as little as possible": thank the lord for case law.]

coffeewineandchocolate Sat 21-Sep-13 17:51:03

In our LA it is means tested on a three tier system and guaranteed for 2 years. After that you are complete a financial assessment annually. Ctc and cb are taken into account. If a child has particular special needs which will require more expensive care I have known a lump sum agreement being agreed to be paid once the Sgo is granted

hackneyLass Sat 21-Sep-13 20:31:46

Interesting to see how different LAs do it. I think there is enough knowledge in the collective MN brain that we can do a map of the whole country (countries).

We've been offered a lump sum as a 'contribution towards' moving and settling in costs. I guess the shortfall we take out as a loan.

NanaNina Tue 24-Sep-13 00:58:06

Good for you Hackneylass - the trouble is these SGO Regs were I understand drafted in a hurry by the working party and I think they have failed to understand the financial needs of carers. It is stated in the Regs that the LA fund for 2 years after the making of the SGO and that of course is what makes it such an attractive proposition for LAs as it is a massive cost saving exercise - no funding after 2 years and no sw service from the date the SGO is made.

Are the children actually placed with you yet? I wondered as you said financial support evaporates "soon after they come to us" - if so it sounds like the LA aren't even sticking to what it says in the Regs about 2 years.

I absolutely agree that you shouldn't agree to anything that puts you in a disadvantageous position and the Statement of Needs should have been completed with you surely. They will be desperate for your agreement because this Statement has to be filed with the SGO A/ment and judges won't hear the case without it. This means that they won't be able to stick to the court timetable - I have little sympathy with this because it is unacceptable that they expect you to agree to this in a couple of days time.

coffee&C I think it is imperative that all finances are agreed before the SGO is made because once that happens the LA can close the case. It may be that your LA will complete a means tested assessment annually but that needs to be spelled out in the Statement of Needs before the SGO is made. It would be all too easy for this annual review to be forgotten or a new manager comes in and states that there is insufficient funding in the budget for further SGO payments. Then the only course of action is to apply for Judicial Review which is going to need a lawyer and hefty legal fees.

I think the best thing to do is to look at the SGO Regs - you can get them on line if you google, and pay particular attention to matters of finance. This should put you a step ahead of the sws as they often don't read Regs!!

NanaNina Tue 24-Sep-13 01:06:31

I just googled SGO allowances and the 2nd thing that came up was a case of a grandparent that was offered two-thirds of the fostering allowance for an SGO and she took the London Borough of Merton to the High Court for Judicial Review and won the case. The High Court stated that she must be paid the full fostering allowance. This I think will set a legal precedent.

NanaNina Tue 24-Sep-13 01:13:31

I have read the judgement of the case above that I mentioned, provided by Family Law Week and there is another case where the High Court has ruled that the LA must pay fostering allowances to people who are awarded SGOs (Barret v Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council) and so it looks like it is well worth advising the LA that you intent to take the matter to the High Court. Only thing is you will need legal representation and legal aid is not available. Maybe the fact that you say you are going to the HIgh Court and quote chapter and verse of the LAs that have been told that it is unlawful not to pay the same as fostering allowances will be enough.

sony767 Thu 13-Feb-14 12:51:17

I know this is an old thread but can anyone help with my questions. We are in the process of an SGO order and have been told that the means test the LA did shows that we do not qualify for financial help only a one off allowance which won't even cover the cost of a buggy and cot for the baby. Even though we have a good salary, according to some but we do not receive any child benefit or any other benefit. We live in London so our salary does not go far, with the high cost of living, mortgage, school essentials ( we already have three kids). We desperately want to take this child in, but we were under the impression that we would get some help. Only my husband works and funds are tight as it is now. Babies don't pay for themselves! And I would hate to scrimp on my other children to manage. The Order has not gone through, still waiting for final report to be filed and hearing, but should we wait until the order is given and then say something. I don't want them to think that we will only tcake the baby if we are compensated. I am thinking that this whole SGO is just the councils sneaky way of saving money. If we were foster careers we would be financially assisted. Please help?

suzylee73 Fri 14-Feb-14 08:32:07

I know several foster carers that have gone down the sgo route and after 2 years have found themselves without the financial support they thought they would get. Now other foster carers have negotiated a payment of £300 per week until the yp turns 18.
My point is don't let them tell you what they will give you, tell them! The allowance you are fighting for is for the benefit of the child so fight for it

NanaNina Sun 23-Feb-14 18:27:15

Please don't wait until the Order is made as then it could be too late. You are absolutely right that this is the LA trying to save money. If you scroll back I have given advice on this issue to other posters. The LA have to complete an assessment of need to go alongside the SGO report and this includes financial provision. Have a look at my posts above (dated 24th Sept) Are you in a position to get legal advice on this issue. I think the cases I referred to will have set a legal precedent and your lawyer would be able to make the case for you.

I can well understand how you don't want to seem to be gaining financially without good cause, but as you say you need the finance and the child will grow.........(they all do that!) On no account must you accept the LA decision on this. Can you say what the circumstances are (or PM me if you like) but bear in mind that only you can make an application for an SGO although the LA don't make that clear. SO unless the financial issue is sorted I think you should say that you are not prepared to continue with the SGO as you think it would be irresponsible to take over the care of the child without the necessary finance to ensure that all the children in the family can enjoy a reasonable (not lavish) standard of living.

I am assuming that the baby is placed on the basis of short term fostering at present.

You could contact Fostering Networks, or British Agencies for Fostering & Adoption (BAAF) for advice, and there is also a Grandparents Association (you will find them all on google)

Fathertedfan Sun 23-Feb-14 19:59:19

I'd advise any foster carer to think very carefully about SGOs. We had been fostering for some years when I received a call from a child's social worker asking if we would like to become SG for the child. I had never heard of this and asked to have it explained to me. I was told point blank what it would mean - no more bureaucracy, but also no more fostering payments. I was utterly Gobsmacked, and asked the social worker if she too intended to work for no pay full time from now on? I know that the pressure on some carers has been very strong to enter into this arrangement.

indalomansx Thu 01-May-14 19:47:58

Hi there having with my wife just gone through the long process of an SGO granted on 16/04/14. I must say you get a lot of BS from some social worker it maybe they are under instructions of managers or just dont know!
Our grandchildren were removed from there parents in dec 2012 they came to live with us then. Unlucky for me I was made redundant for the children I was able to look after them full time being 2 and 3 years old. i lost around 25k PA and got next to nothing 6 months JSA, my wife earns around 35k PA , as SGO is not means tested we got legal aid to go through the court process. As i said the children are now with us for 14 years plus to come, We will be supported/helped for two years year 1 80% of foster care rate for child then 50% in year two followed by nothing! No tax or working credits. I do feel this is wrong not to get support from LA because if the grandchildren were placed in care/fostering the costs to them are some what high around up to £350 per child as its classed as working then approx £150 per week per child for food board clothes and other costs. You do get the feeling that LA want for the want of better words Dump children asap to save money. The judge stated that she had no powers to force the LA to pay after two years. In fact my LA have done some fancy footwork the judges words as they are back dating it by 6 months when they paid temporary residents allowance. So take any promises form social workers with a pinch of salt .

NanaNina Fri 02-May-14 22:03:48

I'm sorry you have not had a good financial deal for your grandchildren. The issue of finance seems to differ dependent on different LAs and Judges. I read of grandparents recently on MN who were told a similar thing to you, but they went to court (and represented themselves) and told the Judge they could not afford to care for their grandchildren until they were 18 and the Judge ordered the LA to "sort out the matter" and gave a date for them to return to court. The result was that it was written into the court documents that the g/prts would get an allowance equivalent to a fostering allowance until the children were 18.

You are absolutely right that LAs are reluctant to take this issue of funding seriously, but I do have to say that the fault lies with this coalition as they are slashing the budgets of all public services and there are some LAs who are openly stating that they are unable to remove children from unsafe homes because they can't afford the financial costs involved.

indalomansx Fri 02-May-14 22:44:15

Very interesting it would be nice to find out how they managed to win and if they took it beyond the normal SGO judge,
My solicitor has /is trying to get the LA to change mind over the back dating part, If detail are not to deeply hidden any help would be great. thank you.

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