Claire Sugden, Independent MLA for East Londonderry has expressed concern over the impact that welfare reform cuts will have on Kinship Carers.
Miss Sugden said:
“I am concerned at the impact of further welfare reform cuts on Kinship Carers.
120,000 households in Northern Ireland receiving tax credits will each lose over £900 per year due to the Chancellor’s July Budget. Further cuts are salt in the wounds of families already struggling to maintain a basic standard of living.
Kinship carers save Health and Social Services money in care costs each year, and it often means giving up employment. The lowering of the benefit cap for households, and cuts to tax credits will leave kinship families in my constituency facing poverty.
Limiting child tax credits to two children from 2017 will have a disastrous impact on kinship carers who look after their own, and other children. Low income households are being squeezed by the clinical line that the Conservative government has drawn through welfare reform.
There is always demand for Foster carers; the Northern Trust currently needs emergency carers. Potential carers must know that there are structures of support for them.
I recently spoke with the Chairperson of Kinship Care NI regarding financial strains on families. Although formal Kinship Carers receive financial support from social services, the needs of information Kinship Carers are often unmet.
The Work and Families Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 means Kinship carers who are employed are entitled to flexible working. However this will not benefit those who are unable to work because of their care responsibilities.
Kinship Fostering must be supported through Adoption Legislation due to pass through the Assembly. They are the unsung heroes of the care world and they deserve to be protected.”