Kinship carers living in fear of new benefits system

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18th August 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Scotland’s kinship carers are set to lose out thanks to the imposition of Universal Credit, a new report claims.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland says support for such carers – family or friends who take on the full-time care of a child on a permanent or semi-permanent basis – is already variable and often inadequate.

It raises concerns that Universal Credit, which is replacing most means-tested working age benefits and tax credits, will cause even more problems.

CPAG’s study, Coping with complexity, has been sent to the UK and Scottish governments as well as all of Scotland’s local authorities.

Every level of government must co-operate to ensure financial support has the maximum impact on families struggling on low incomes

The report’s authors say the devolution of parts of the UK’s welfare system – where different parts are reserved to Westminster and others administered by Holyrood – has left a confused picture.

Alongside the roll-out of Universal Credit, this could lead to “tortuous” interactions between the various national and local agencies, leaving many kinship carers and the children they look after at risk of poverty.

CPAG calls for the Scottish Government to take action to ensure existing powers it holds are used to safeguard a minimum level of benefit payment for kinship carers.

Report author Alison Gillies, a welfare rights expert at CPAG in Scotland, said: “The clear lesson from the experience of Scottish kinship care payments is that every level of government must co-operate fully to ensure that the financial support they provide has the maximum possible impact on families struggling on low incomes.

“As Universal Credit is rolled out and further social security powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament that lesson is more important than ever if we are to avoid the iniquitous outcomes that many kinship carers have faced.”