Special Guardianship Finance Information
SGO Money & Allowance
Finance and Money Information
e Special Guardianship Allowances means tested
Special Guardianship Carers are entitled to be assessed to receive a means-tested Special Guardianship Allowance as part of their SGO assessment.
This means that the Local Authority will assess the income you have coming in when calculating any SGO financial allowance.
This meant that you may not automatically receive an SGO allowance if an SGO is granted.
You should make sure that you request an SGO Allowance financial assessment is started early on in your assessment.
Practice varies between Local Authorities, and you should check with the assessing social worker as to when your financial assessment will be completed.
The SGO financial outcome should be provided to you prior to any order being granted.
Are SGO Allowances Reviewed?
SGO Allowances are also subject to annual review.
The Local Authority will write to you each year, to ask if your circumstances have changed.
You will need to respond if requested to do so, even if there have been no changes, in order to avoid any SGO allowance that is currently received, being stopped.
Are Special Guardianship Allowances Time Limited?
Special Guardianship allowances may also be time limited, i.e. provided for a set number of years.
You should ensure that any timescale for allowances is agreed within your support plan and this show whether the Special Guardianship allowance will continue until the child reaches the age of 18.
Is there a set-up allowance for Special Guardians?
Special Guardians may also be entitled to receive a one off set up allowance if the child is moving into their care from an alternative placement, and you should ask if there is any additional funding that you can receive.
Are Special Guardianship allowances less than fostering allowances?
Nationally, the legislation around SGO allowance was changed a few years ago, SGO allowances now match that of fostering allowances.
Other Key Financial Information for Special Guardianship
Money & Benefits
Essentially, what you need to know is that once a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is granted, an SGO carer has the same right to benefits and tax credits as a birth parent would.
As everyone’s circumstances are different, we recommend that you contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for benefits advice, who will help you to consider the welfare benefit and financial issues specific to your circumstances.
When discussing your case, you should be aware that once a Special Guardianship Order is granted the Special Guardian has the same roles, responsibilities, and benefit / tax credit entitlements as a birth parent.
The Special Guardian therefore is considered in the same way as a ‘parent’ of the child for benefits purposes. This means that Special Guardians are treated by the benefit system as if the child was their own.
- As a Special Guardian you are eligible to claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, entitlement depending on your level of income. If you work and have childcare costs, you may be entitled to make a claim for Working Tax Credit towards these costs.
- If you are a parent with a child under 16 you may be entitled to Universal Credit. This is dependent on your level of income and savings. There are other occasions where you may also be entitled to claim Universal Credit as a carer, i.e. if a child has a disability.
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) disregard any Special Guardianship allowance that you receive from the local authority as part of your income if you make a claim for means tested benefits.
Welfare Benefits Advice:
Family Rights Group also has several finance guides that you can download
There are also charities such as Turn2us who may be able to help you.
Advice line: 0808 808 4000 Monday to Friday 9am-8pm & Saturday 9.30am-1pm
National Debtline provides free, confidential, expert telephone advice. The website includes a comprehensive range of factsheets and guides including mortgage and rent arrears guides.
Buttleuk – this charity can help with financial support and also help to provide white goods
Specialguardianshipsupport also has a finance information leaflet for special guardians.
Work & Employment: Your Rights as a Carer
You may need to think about your current employment and your rights related to your caring role. The national charity Kinship provides some detailed information about work on their website around:
- Time off for Dependents
- Unpaid Parental Leave
- Flexible Working
All three and four year-olds, and some two year-olds are entitled to 15 hours a week of free early education or childcare during term-time.
The government’s childcare calculator can compare all of the government’s childcare offers and special guardians can find out what works best for you.
You can also find more information relating to your options regarding your childcare and financial support at Kinship’s website: Childcare Options & Support
Pupil Premium Plus
The Pupil Premium is additional money given to schools in England to raise the attainment of eligible pupils. Schools qualify for this funding for every child who is in receipt of free school meals.
Schools are also given additional money for ‘looked after children’, children who have been adopted from care and children who have left care under a Special Guardianship Order. This is called the Pupil Premium Plus.
If your child is eligible for the Pupil Premium Plus you should inform the school, as they may not be aware of the child’s status.
Help for children with special needs
Benefits are available to children with a disability and their carers including Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, flexible short breaks and direct payments provided as part of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.
Adoption Support Fund
The Adoption Support Fund was set up to help pay for essential therapy services for adoptive families and has since been extended to special guardian families where the child was previously ‘looked after’.
The fund is available to children and young people up to and including the age of 18 (or 25 if the young person has an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP).
The funding is to covered therapeutic services, such as play therapy, Life Story work or direct work with a child. Currently the funding is £5000 per child per financial year.
You will need to apply through your Local Authority and you should contact the Special Guardianship or Adoption Team who should be able to help you apply for this.
Other Issues for you to consider as a Special Guardian:
Working & SGO – Many employers do not have special leave arrangements for Special Guardians to support over the time that your child moves in with them, however, many large employers have the capacity to grant a discretionary period of leave under family leave arrangements. It is always worth making enquiries as to the specific provisions and policies within your own workplace. More and more there is an entitlement not dissimilar to that granted to people moving into adoption placements and each company policy is different so you need to check with your employer.
University costs for a young person previously subject to an SGO will be assessed on the ‘parental’ income of the former Special Guardian. Therefore, the former Special Guardian may be assessed to pay fees etc., with their income being taken into account when the young person applies for student loans and grants
Housing – If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, the child/young person becomes part of your claim. If you, as a Special Guardian live in the social housing sector, and have had to pay the under-occupancy charge, having an ‘extra child’ in your family may mean that this under-occupancy charge no longer applies. Please note that two children/young people of the same sex under 16 are expected to share a room and two children under the age of 10 (regardless of sex) are expected to share a room.
Foster carer to SGO – some foster carers claim working tax credit because H M Revenue and Customs (HMRC) view fostering as self-employed ‘work’. If you cease to be a foster carer and take-out a Special Guardianship Order (an SGO), you would lose this option, unless you had other work that could count. As a result of this change some SGO holders may need to ‘sign on’ as unemployed as they will be classed as a jobseeker. You should check with the DWP as policy around this may change from time to time, and you should get up to date information before making any decisions.
Working age and SGO – If you are a Special Guardian and have been getting universal credit because you were a foster carer of a child aged 5-16, you will lose your exemption from having to sign-on as unemployed if you are still of working age (up to 63.5 years).
Pension Claimants and SGO – There is no impact on pension claimants who become Special Guardians, as they are not looking for work, they are exempt from the under-occupancy tax and the benefit cap does not apply. However, a Special Guardian pension claimant will be able to claim child benefit and child tax credit.
Contact is an area of huge concern for Special Guardianship carers, find out more about managing contact
Support Groups are the chance to meet others in a similar position, share ideas and information in a safe place.
You need to have space in your home, find out where to go for support with housing
Information provided on the SGO Support website is on an as-seen basis. SGO Support makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its use. You should check with relevant agencies as policy is frequently updating and whilst every effort is made to keep this site up to date, you should complete your own research and due diligence before making decisions.
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NB* Please do not contact us to query any SGO finance payments, whether this is a new, late or missing payment.
All SGO payments are made by your Local Authority, please contact them directly.