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5.15.1 Special Guardianship Policy and Procedures

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

DfE, Special guardianship guidance, (2017)

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Children in Need Planning and Review Procedure

Family and Friends Care Policy

Permanency Policy and Care Planning Procedure

Court Reports in Adoption and Special Guardianship Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was comprehensively updated and re-drafted in December 2017 to reflect the Knowsley policies and practice in respect of Special Guardianship Orders (SGO). In addition to who may be eligible to apply for an SGO the chapter deals with the assessment process; Special Guardianship support: the plan, entitlement and services, financial support - including leaving care and the Appeals Process.


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Pathways to Special Guardianship
3. Special Guardianship Support Services
4. Support Services for People Outside the Area
5. Assessment for Special Guardianship Support Services
  5.1 Child in Care/Formerly in Care
  5.2 Child Not in Care
6. Support Plan
7. Review of Support Plan
8. Financial Support
  8.1 Payments for Former Foster Carers
  8.2 Payment of Financial Support
  8.3 Cessation of Financial Support
9. Leaving Care Support
10. Who Undertakes Assessments for Support Following the Order and Within the Last 3 Years
  Appendix 1: Special Guardianship Order / Child Arrangement Order – Appeals process for financial assessment


1. Introduction

Special Guardianship Orders came into force on 30 December 2005 by an amendment to the Children Act 1989 Section 14A-F. The Act is supported by the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 (Amended in 2016 and further updated 2017) and statutory guidance.

A Special Guardianship Order provides legal permanence for children for whom adoption is not appropriate. It provides guardians with the authority to make the necessary decisions to enhance the welfare of the child. It gives the Special Guardian Parental Responsibility and the power to take decisions on the upbringing and care of the child to the exclusion of all others (except a joint Special Guardian). Birth parent(s) retain a level of parental responsibility and the child cannot be adopted without their consent. Examples of where Special Guardianship Orders are appropriate are:

  • Some children, especially older children who want the sense of security but without an absolute break from their birth family;
  • Those who have religious or cultural difficulties with adoption;
  • Unaccompanied asylum seekers;
  • Foster carers where there is a meaningful relationship with the parents.

If the child was formerly in the care of the Local Authority, they cease to be so upon the making of a Special Guardianship Order. The order is intended to promote a permanent relationship between the child and the Special Guardian which is legally secure and aims to preserve the link between the child and their birth family. Local Authorities have a statutory duty to make provision for a range of services to support people affected by Special Guardianship, (this includes the child, Special Guardian, parents and potentially wider family members).

The effects of the making of the Special Guardianship Order are:

  • The Special Guardian will have parental responsibility for the child and holds an overriding decision making power of all others (except another Special Guardian) until the child is 18 years old. This overriding power is granted with certain exceptions that are controlled by the Court making which are set out below;
  • The child may be known by a new surname with the leave of the Court and or written consent of everyone with parental responsibility;
  • The child may be taken out of the country for longer than 3 months with the leave of the Court and/or written consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility.

The birth parents legally remain the child’s parents but their ability to exercise parental responsibility is limited to the right to consent or not to adoption and to consent in those situations where the law requires the consent of more than one person with parental responsibility. The parent would not be able to exercise PR if the SGO were to use their parental responsibility in opposition.

The Special Guardian must take reasonable steps to inform the birth parents if the child dies.

On the 29th February 2016 Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016 came into force. In brief these regulations require that Special Guardianship assessments/court reports include a thorough consideration of:

  1. Any harm which the child has suffered and any risk of future harm to the child posed by their parents, relatives or any other person considered relevant, for example a partner of the parent;
  2. The child’s current needs and their likely future needs;
  3. The nature of the child’s relationship with the prospective special guardian both at the time of the assessment and in the past;
  4. The parenting capacity of the proposed Special Guardians and their ability to understand and meet the needs of the child until the age of 18 yrs.


2. Pathways to Special Guardianship

An enquiry about Special Guardianship can come from a variety of sources including: birth parents, foster carers, the child, the child’s family members, other local authorities or the Court.

Those eligible to make an application are individuals or couples (who do not need to be married) who are over 18 years of age AND at least ONE of the following:

  • Any guardian of the child;
  • A Local Authority foster carer with whom the child has lived continuously for one year immediately preceding the application;
  • Anyone with a Child Arrangement Order. If the child is subject of a shared Child Arrangement Order, anyone with the consent of all those who share the Child Arrangement Order;
  • Anyone with whom the child has lived for three out of the last five years;
  • If the child is in the care of the local authority, anyone who has the consent of the Local Authority;
  • Anyone who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility for the child;
  • Any person, including the child, who has the leave of the Court to apply.

People who can not apply for an SGO should be advised there may be alternative orders and arrangements to allow them to care for the child/ren.

Neither the parents of a child or a Local Authority can make an application for Special Guardianship.

In any family proceedings, (including adoption), the Court can order a Local Authority to prepare a report and the Court upon receipt of that Report may make a Special Guardianship Order without an application having been made by anyone if the welfare of the child requires it.

Any person who is eligible to make an application for a Special Guardianship Order should give the Local Authority 3 month’s written notice of their intention to apply. The only exceptions to this are:

  1. Where an application for Special Guardianship for the child has already been made by someone else; or
  2. An application for adoption of the child has been made.

If an application is made with the leave of the Court, no notice to the Local Authority has to be given and the Court may direct when the Report should be filed.

On receipt of the written Notice, or the Court order, the Local Authority must investigate and prepare a report about the suitability of the applicants to be Special Guardians. The information to be supplied in the report is prescribed by a Schedule attached to the Special Guardianship Regulations.

The report will be completed by an assessing social worker. If the child has a social worker then the author will be that worker. If the child does not have a social worker, then the Team Manager of the receiving Children in Need Team will discuss with the relevant Head of Service to agree which team the case will be allocated to. The report will include:

  • Information about the child who is the subject of the application including a photograph and information from all other agencies involved with the child;
  • Information about the child’s family;
  • Wishes and feelings of the child and others;
  • Information about the prospective Special Guardian including their suitability;
  • Information about the Local Authority compiling the report;
  • A health history, including a summary prepared by a medical professional;
  • Implications of the making of a Special Guardianship Order for all those involved;
  • Relative merits of Special Guardianship and other orders;
  • Recommendations regarding Special Guardianship, contact and any identified support needs.

Discharge or Variation of SGO

If a Special Guardianship Order is in force an application for a Child Arrangement Order can only be made with leave of the Court. This is designed to give Special Guardians a higher level of protection from litigation than holders of a Child Arrangement Orders. However, a parent with parental responsibility may make an application for contact or another Section 8 Order without obtaining the leave of the Court. The Court has the power to limit such applications by Section 91(14) of The Children Act 1989.

The Court may vary or discharge an SGO on the application of the Special Guardian without leave being sought. In most other cases the potential applicant must obtain permission of the Court to make such an application. The Court may not grant leave unless it is satisfied that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the making of the SGO. The approach the Court will take is of a similar nature to an application to the discharge of a placement order. Only if there has been a significant change of circumstances will the Court move on to consider its discretion and the welfare checklist.

The following persons can make an application to the Court for a discharge or variation:

  • The Special Guardian;
  • The Local Authority in whose name a Care Order was in force with respect to the child before the Special Guardianship Order was made;
  • Anyone with a Child Arrangements Order in respect of the child before the Special Guardianship Order was made, with the leave of the Court;
  • The child's parents or guardians any step-parent who has Parental Responsibility;
  • Anyone who had Parental Responsibility immediately before the Special Guardianship Order was made;
  • The child, (if the Court is satisfied that the child has sufficient understanding).


3. Special Guardianship Support Services

Local authorities are required to make a range of support services available in their area to meet the needs of people affected by Special Guardianship. These needs are defined as counselling, advice and information and other such services as may be prescribed and defined by the authority. These include:

Financial support – paid subject to assessed need and means tested. (regulation 3(1)(a)). Finance will only be provided to those who it is believed require assistance above any benefits and tax credits they are entitled to. If the finance of the Special Guardian(s) is means tested, child benefits and child tax credits will be considered and deducted.

Services to enable groups of children for whom a Special Guardianship Order is in force or pending, Special Guardians or prospective Special Guardians, and parents of the child to discuss matters relating to Special Guardianship (reg 3(1) (b)).

Assistance including mediation services, in relation to contact between the child and their parents or relatives or any other relevant person that the Local Authority considers to be beneficial to the welfare of the child (reg 3(1)(c)).

Therapeutic services for the child (reg 3(1) (d)).

Special Guardianship Support services should be considered holistically with mainstream services available in the community. Children and families should be encouraged to claim any benefits and tax credits available. Financial support paid under the Regulations cannot duplicate any other payment available and the Local Authority must take into account any other grant, child benefit or allowance or resource which is available to the person in respect of his needs as a result of becoming a Special Guardian.

If the Special Guardian decides not to claim any child benefits and or child tax credits available to them then a notional amount will be deducted from the SGO payment.


4. Support Services for People Outside the Area

The Local Authority where the Special Guardian lives is responsible for undertaking an assessment of need and the provision of any identified support services unless the child was in care immediately prior to the making of the Special Guardianship Order.

If the child was previously in care immediately before the making of a Special Guardianship Order, responsibility for the assessment and provision of services remains with the Local Authority where the child was last in care for 3 years from the date of the order. If the family moves in this period, or there is any other significant change in their circumstances, the responsible Local Authority may reassess their need for services and alter the support plan as appropriate. A distinction is made between ongoing financial support, (financial support which is paid on a regular basis), which was agreed before the Special Guardianship Order was made, and other support services. The assessment and provision of such financial support will remain the responsibility of the Local Authority who originally agreed it for as long as the family in question qualify (with annual reviews) for payments. The annual review will be undertaken in the month of the Special Guardianship Order date being granted by the court.

The Local Authority may exercise discretion to provide services to people outside their area in other circumstances where the Local Authority considers it appropriate.


5. Assessment for Special Guardianship Support Services

5.1 Child in Care/Formerly in Care

The following people must receive an assessment at their request, in cases involving a child in care or if the child was in care immediately prior to the making of the Special Guardianship Order (Reg11):

  • The child;
  • The Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian;
  • A parent.

5.2 Child Not in Care

The following people seeking support may go on to have their needs

assessed in accordance to this support:

  • The child;
  • The Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian;
  • A parent;
  • A child of a Special Guardian;
  • Any person whom the Local Authority considers to have a significant and ongoing relationship with the child.

If a decision is made not to undertake an assessment the person requesting the assessment should be notified in writing of the decision and the reasons for it. They should be allowed 28 days to make representations in relation to that decision. An appeals process will be offered as outlined in Appendix 1: Special Guardianship Order / Child Arrangement Order – Appeals process for financial assessment.

Representations should be made in the form of a complaint under the Complaints Procedure.

If the Local Authority uses its discretion to assess, then the same process should be used as is carried out for persons entitled to needs led assessment.

An assessment is not always required for the provision of counselling, advice or information unless this is to be provided in association with other support services.

Assessment of support services; in Completing the Assessment for Special Guardianship Support Services the Social Workers Assessment should be based on the Assessment Framework and should consider as far as relevant to the particular assessment (Reg12):

  • The developmental needs of the child;
  • The parenting capacity of the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian;
  • The family and environmental factors which have influenced the past life of the child and will influence their future life;
  • What the life of the child will be like with the Special Guardian;
  • The needs of the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian and their family;
  • The impact of the order on any pre-existing relationships;
  • Multi agency contributions to support needs;
  • Any strengths of the child and Special Guardian as well as any difficulties;
  • The child’s history and experiences to establish specific vulnerabilities which may result from adverse experiences
  • Any previous assessments in respect of the child or Special Guardian;
  • The views of the child and Special Guardian;
  • Use of evidence based assessment tools.

The person whose needs are being assessed should be interviewed unless the assessment relates only to information and advice or unless it is not appropriate to interview a child. In this case the child’s Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian may be interviewed. If the person whose needs are being assessed is not a Special Guardian, an assessment of the Special Guardian(s) needs may be carried out at the same time to avoid undertaking multiple assessments.

If needs identified relate to services provided by health or education services, and it appears there may be resource implications for those services, the assessing social worker should consult with the relevant body during the course of the assessment.

It is important that the assessment process does not unnecessarily delay provision where a person has an urgent need for a service. In such cases, services should be provided to meet the urgent need if appropriate, following discussion with the relevant Team Manager. The Local Authority may then review its provision as soon as possible within the assessment.

If discretion is used to provide a service on behalf of another Local Authority then the procedure for assessment should be the same.

If the enquiry is simply for information, advice or counselling services it may not be necessary to carry out a full assessment to provide the support. Similarly, where a request relates to one particular service then the assessment could be limited to assessing the need for that service.

When the assessment has been completed and it reveals a need for services, the assessing social worker should contact the Head of Service or Team Manager to discuss the ongoing support needs and agree the Support Plan. Any proposed support must be agreed by a Head of Service before any Notice of the outcome is given.

The person being assessed must be given an opportunity to make representations by being sent a Notice of Outcome of Assessment. Unless they agree otherwise, or the court directs, this period should be not less than 28 days. The person should be advised about sources of independent advice and advocacy.

The Notice of Outcome of Assessment should include the person’s assessed need for Special Guardianship support services and the method of determination of the amount of financial support (if applicable).

If Special Guardianship support services are to be provided on more than one occasion and are not limited to the provision of advice and information then a Special Guardianship support plan must be produced. The support plan and provision of services must be discussed with the Team Manager and presented to Permanence Panel.

If the Special Guardian responds within the timescale and is unhappy with the content then Representations should be made in the form of a complaint under the Complaints Procedure.

After considering any representations, a final decision will be made about what support services to provide, if any, and Notice of that decision must be given, including the reasons for it.

Financial support can be paid to facilitate arrangements for persons who have been granted Special Guardianship Orders. Assessment of financial support; when considering providing financial support the Local Authority will take into consideration the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian’s financial resources by undertaking means tested financial assessment and the individual needs of the child. Payments are made to meet the needs of the child. Assessments are based upon the whole household’s income and expenditure. Child benefits and child tax credits will be deducted from any amounts considered during this process (A financial assessment must be agreed by the permanency panel or in emergencies the Head of Service for Permanence and Provision.

Where financial support is provided the notice of the decision must also include the method of calculation, and:

  • The amount of financial support;
  • The frequency of payment;
  • The period for which financial support is to be paid;
  • When payment will commence.

Where financial support is to be paid as a single payment, when that payment will be made, date the payment is to be made will be recorded and applicant informed in writing and recorded in the support plan.

Where financial support is to be paid subject to any conditions, those conditions, the date (if any) by which the conditions are to be met and the consequences of failing to meet them. It should also detail the arrangements and procedure for review and termination of financial support, (see separate guidance for financial assessment.)

Financial support is subject to annual reviews being undertaken. These reviews will be the responsibility of the Special Guardian and the local authority. If any changes occur with the Special Guardian they must inform the Local Authority to prevent any overpayments taking place. Where overpayments take place, the Special Guardian will be expected to return the funds immediately. The Head of Service must be notified of any overpayments.

Where there are exceptional circumstances requiring financial support as a result of considerable hardship before the case has been presented to panel, consideration can be given to providing financial support through Section 17 payments. However care should be given to ensure a precedent is not set before a full financial assessment has taken place. Any financial support under Section 17 should be approved by the Head of Service for Child Protection and Children In Need.

For children that have not been looked after prior to the SGO being made, finances will not be considered. A needs based assessment may be completed and outlined specifically in the support plan. Support plans will be considered at Permanence panel.

Any backdating of payments will only be considered where there has been a delay from the point in time it would be reasonable to have reached a decision regarding a payment. Backdating of payments will not pre-date a Special Guardianship Order being made where a child is fostered. Backdated payments should not pre-date the Order being made and or a decision of the Head of Permanence and Provision.


6. Support Plan

A Support Plan must be prepared if Special Guardianship support is to be provided on more than one occasion, and where services are not limited to the provision of advice and information. Where it appears that the person may have need for services from health or education then the social worker should consult with the appropriate body before preparing the plan.

The plan should set out:

  • The services to be provided;
  • The objectives and criteria for evaluating success;
  • Timescales for provision;
  • Procedures for review;
  • The name of Designated Manager (Special Guardianship) nominated to monitor the provision in accordance with the plan.


7. Review of Support Plan

Support services provided within a Special Guardianship support plan must be reviewed:

  • If any change in the person’s circumstances, which may affect the provision of Special Guardianship support services, comes to the notice of the Council. If the change of circumstances is relatively minor, the review may be limited to an exchange of correspondence;
  • There will be a requirement for a financial assessment review to be undertaken annually regardless of any change in circumstances. Payments may be suspended if information is not shared for an assessment to take place.

A Team Manager will monitor and review support plans. The format and content of the review will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. If the family is now residing out of the area see Section 4, Support Services for People Outside the Area. Notification of a change in circumstance or a review of the provision of support services is unlikely to necessitate direct contact between the Local Authority and the Special Guardian. The review may be conducted by correspondence if appropriate. In particular, the annual review of financial support might be achieved by an exchange of correspondence. Where a change of circumstances is relevant to only one service the review may be carried out with reference only to that service. Where the change of circumstances is substantial, it may be appropriate to conduct a new assessment of needs. In these circumstances the Team Manager may need to allocate a social worker to complete an assessment.

If after the review it is decided to vary or terminate the provision of Special Guardianship support services, the person must be given 28 days notice of the proposed decision and allowed time to make representations. Any representations should be made under the Complaints Procedure. (See Appendix 1: Special Guardianship Order / Child Arrangement Order – Appeals process for financial assessment, Stage 3 – Complaint).


8. Financial Support

Financial support or assistance is payable to a Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian if it is to:

  1. Facilitate arrangements for a person to become a Special Guardian for a child where the Local Authority consider such arrangements to be beneficial to the child’s welfare; or,
  2. Support the continuation of such arrangements after a Special Guardianship Order is made.

In general, financial support is payable in the following circumstances:

  1. Where the Local Authority considers such financial support necessary to ensure the Special Guardian can look after the child;
  2. Where the Local Authority considers that the child needs special care which requires a greater expenditure of resources than would otherwise be the case because of his or her illness, disability, emotional or behavioural difficulties or the consequences of past abuse or neglect. This would take into account the benefit entitlements to the Special Guardian. For example child disability tax credits and or DLA. However, the needs of the child when assessed will take the usage of the benefits before additional resources are requested;
  3. Any discretionary financial support will only be paid to meet the individual needs of the child. This decision will be made via the Permanence Panel.

All requests for financial support for Special Guardianship Orders must meet the criteria (see Section 5, Assessment for Special Guardianship Support Services) and be agreed via a recommendation made by the Permanence Panel.

One Off or single payments shall be considered for: Legal costs and expenses (e.g. Court Costs) and also future Court costs. Payments for legal costs will not be considered where the Local Authority opposes the application for a Special Guardianship Order.

Where financial support is paid this will be means tested using the model means test. The model is based on disposable income; there must be no reward element in financial payments other than as a transitional provision for foster carers becoming Special Guardians for a child for whom they are currently caring.

Financial support paid to Special Guardians under the regulations cannot duplicate or be a substitute for any payment to which they would be entitled under the tax and benefit system. The Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Services Regulations 2003 do not allow financial support to be provided that duplicates payments available through the tax and benefit system. Special Guardians will be offered assistance in making claims for the appropriate benefits. If they decide not to make a claim for a benefit to which they are entitled a notional amount will be deducted from their allowance.

Following the financial assessment in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Local Authority, the maximum payment will ordinarily be the basic fostering allowance payable to Knowsley foster carers were the child fostered, (at the presenting age of the child at the time the assessment and any subsequent review takes place). The amount is calculated using information supplied on the means test form that takes into consideration household income and expenditure. It will be reviewed on an annual basis and whenever there is a significant change in circumstances, for example redundancy or change in employment status.

The agreement of the Permanence Panel must be obtained prior to formal notification being sent to the Special Guardians or prospective Special Guardians.

8.1 Payments for Former Foster Carers

An element of remuneration to former foster carers may be payable providing the decision to include it is taken before the Special Guardianship Order is made and the Local Authority consider it be necessary to facilitate arrangements for a person to become a Special Guardian where:

  1. The Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian has been a Local Authority foster parent in respect of the child/ren;
  2. An element of remuneration was included in the payments by the Local Authority to that person in relation to fostering the child.

Any payments element ceases to be payable after 2 years from the making of the order unless the Local Authority consider its continuation to be necessary. The Special Guardianship report or Single Assessment should identify that need.

8.2 Payment of Financial Support

Financial support that is to be paid periodically will not be paid until the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian agrees to the following conditions (Reg10):

  1. The Local Authority are informed immediately if:
    • They change address; or
    • The child dies; or
    • The child ceases to reside with them; or
    • The child ceases full time education or training and commences employment or qualifies for a placement on a Government training scheme ;or
    • There is a change in the financial circumstance or the financial needs or resources of the child which may affect the amount of financial support that is payable.

Where the information is given verbally it must be confirmed in writing within 7 days.

  1. That the Special Guardian will complete and supply the Local Authority with an annual statement as to matters concerning:
    • Their financial circumstances;
    • The financial needs and resources of the child;
    • Their address and confirmation the child continues to reside with them.

Failure to comply with the conditions and expectations required may result in the suspension or termination in the payment of financial support. The decision will be made by the Head of Service for Permanence and Provision.

If children have ongoing regular respite care provided and paid for by the Local Authority the allowance will be reduced accordingly. This will then be reviewed in the annual needs led review. A change in the needs led review should be agreed by Permanence Panel.

8.3 Cessation of Financial Support

Financial support ceases to be payable if:

  1. The child ceases to reside with the Special Guardian; or
  2. The child reaches 18 years unless in continuous Full time education or training; when it may continue until the end of the course / training being undertaken; or
  3. The child ceases full-time education or training and commences employment or qualifies for benefits in their own right;
  4. The funds are not being used to meet the child’s needs;
  5. False information is received by the Local Authority.


9. Leaving Care Support

Under Section 24 Children Act there are a number of categories of persons qualifying for advice and assistance. Workers should seek legal advice if the child has ever been in the care of the local authority.

A child or young person who has reached the age of 16 but not the age of 21, who is the subject of a SGO (or an SGO was in force until he reached the age of 18), AND who was looked after immediately before the making of the SGO, qualifies for advice and assistance.

If the above applies the Local Authority must consider whether the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. That the person needs help of a kind which the Local Authority can give under Section 24A or Section 24B Children Act; and
  2. The Special Guardian does not have the necessary facilities for advising or befriending him.

If the conditions are satisfied, then the Local Authority has a duty to advise and befriend him, otherwise there is discretion to do so.

Where the Local Authority has a duty or power to advise and befriend a person, they may also give him assistance in kind and in exceptional circumstances could include accommodation or cash. This assistance may be unconditional or subject to conditions as to repayment in whole or in part. Before giving any assistance or imposing any conditions, the Local Authority shall have regard to the means of the child and special guardian. No person shall be liable to make any repayment of assistance when he is in receipt of Income Support or income based jobseekers allowance.

In prescribed conditions a Special Guardianship Order allowance may continue to be paid beyond the age of 18 years. (Reg2(2))

If the child was looked after immediately before the subject of a Special Guardianship Order, then the authority which last looked after the child is responsible for providing the young person with any leaving care advice or assistance if appropriate and applicable. However, depending on the service required it may be more appropriate for the young person to be sign-posted to support local to where they are now resident, e.g. health care. (Reg22).


10. Who Undertakes Assessments for Support Following the Order and Within the Last 3 Years

The Special Guardianship worker will carry out all the assessments in relation to the child, suitability of the potential Special Guardians, support services and preparing the Court report and presenting to Court, unless it is identified that the child is in need;

Where it is identified that a child is in need a referral will be made to the MASH duty team to carry out the assessment in relation to the child. (See Knowsley MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub))


Appendix 1: Special Guardianship Order / Child Arrangement Order – Appeals process for financial assessment

1. Stage 1 – Review

A different Financial Assessor from the one that made the initial decision or financial assessment will be appointed to consider the review.

The Financial Assessor will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the service user’s appeal request and advise the service user on the review process and to provide any necessary evidence to support their appeal. See SGO8 - Appeal Letter 1;
  • The appointed officer will review the service user’s case and any additional evidence, including, where relevant, any new income and expenditure information provided and will take account of any change in financial circumstances (e.g. reduction/increase to income);
  • The Stage 1 review decision must be made within one calendar month once all information/evidence has been submitted by the special guardian;
  • Letter sent confirming outcome of the review and of their right to appeal the decision. See SG09 – Appeal Letter 2.

Any awards made during the review process will only be backdated to the date of the request for a review unless there are exceptional circumstances.

2. Stage 2 – Appeal

If an appeal is submitted the Head of Service for Permanency and Provision (Children’s Social Care) will review the original assessment, additional supporting information and the decision made at Stage 1 with two possible outcomes:

  • Stage 1 Review decision overturned;
  • Stage 1 Review decision upheld.

The Head of Service will advise the person in writing of the outcome of their second stage appeal and their right to make a complaint within 14 days.

See SG10 – Appeal Letter 3.

Any awards made during the appeal process will only be backdated to the date of the request for a review unless there are exceptional circumstances.

3. Stage 3 – Complaint

If the service user is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial Stage 1 Review or any subsequent Stage 2 Appeal they may lodge a complaint under the Corporate Complaints Procedure.

This procedure requires that the council is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially and to provide a high quality service to those who make them.

There are a number of ways to submit a complaint to the council:

  • Complete the online form at: https://secured.knowsley.gov.uk/haveyoursayform;
  • Pass their written complaint to a member of staff in any of our One Stop Shops;
  • Ring 0151 443 3231 to speak to someone about their complaint regarding Children’s Social Care;
  • Write to:
    Customer Liaison Team
    Municipal Buildings
    Archway Road
    Huyton
    Liverpool
    L36 9YU

The complaint will then be considered in accordance with the terms set out in the Corporate Complaints Procedure.

End