Letters to the editor – May 27, 2022

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Listening to kinship carers


This week’s one-in-a-lifetime independent review of children’s social care marks a seismic change for kinship care.

Finally, kinship carers – ‘the silent and unheard majority in the children’s social care system’ are being recognised and prioritised for the support they deserve.

We’re delighted that the voices of the 150,000-plus grandparents, aunties, uncles, siblings and friends raising children in your area have at last been heard.

In times of crisis, kinship carers step up to provide children with a loving and stable home when their parents aren’t able to, benefitting families and society by preventing children going into the care system unnecessarily.

It makes sense to invest in kinship care. Financial support in particular will help make it possible for children to grow up and thrive within a well-supported family network.

However, as well as guaranteeing comprehensive support for families to thrive in the future, thousands of kinship families desperately need our help today.

The Government must act with urgency to deliver financial, practical and emotional support for all carers and their children.

We’re committed to campaigning together with kinship carers to ensure today’s review becomes a springboard to a future in which kinship families are recognised, valued and supported.

If you’re a kinship carer make sure your voice is heard by visiting https://kinship.org.uk/care-review/share-your-views/.

Lucy Peake, Kinship chief executive

Children’s rights


Today’s announcement that the Scottish Government will now address the amendments needed to pass the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill has been a long time coming for children.

After much delay, it gives some hope that their rights will finally be properly protected in law. That hope must now be followed up with prompt and concrete action.

The Bill passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in March 2021 should be in force by now; it is disappointing that the Scottish Government has taken nearly eight months to set out how the Supreme Court’s judgement will be taken into account.

Every single day of delay is a day when children’s rights are not fully protected.

All children will benefit from the protections of their rights being put into law, but it is particularly important for those children whose rights are most at risk.

It is even more urgent for Scotland to secure children’s rights given the UK Government’s recently announced plan to weaken the protections in the Human Rights Act. Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis require a human rights-based response.

This law will give children the power to enforce their rights, and we know from countries which have already incorporated children’s rights, that this has the potential to deliver transformative change.

Incorporation means it will no longer be good enough to simply pay lip service to children’s rights; they will be fundamental when it comes to policies, legislation and budgets.

And there will be much-needed accountability for public bodies who fail to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights.

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland


News that the UK’s energy price cap is set to rise to around £2,800 in October is jaw-dropping and would be nothing short of catastrophic for older people.

Not to mention the fact it is expected to hit at the worst possible time of year as we head into the colder, darker months.

The past few months have already been extremely challenging, particularly for those on low and fixed incomes, with 94 per cent of older people already worried about their energy bills back in March and many sacrificing all but the most essential purchases to keep their lights and heating on.

Now, the bad news just keeps on coming and it looks like a very dark and difficult winter is looming.

Today’s warning, coupled with news that the inflation rate on everyday shopping has hit its highest point in over a decade, should set alarm bells ringing for both the UK and Scottish Governments, and we would hope to see plans for preventative action taking shape as soon as possible in an attempt to mitigate the undoubtedly devastating impact this increase would have on older people.

We can’t afford to wait for the worst affects to be felt.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of social security goes unclaimed by older people in Scotland every year.

It is important that older people maximise their incomes and claim every penny that they are entitled to.

This could include Pension Credit for those on low state pensions, Council Tax Reduction, and Attendance Allowance.

There are also linked benefits to help with energy costs if you are in receipt of some low-income social security.

Age Scotland can help people understand what they are missing out on with a free eligibility check through their 0800 12 44 222 helpline.

The charity also runs free energy advice workshops and provides information guides about staying warm and well. Find out more at www.age.scot/energy or call the free helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

Brian Sloan, chief executive, Age Scotland

Tax credits scam


We at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are warning tax credits customers to be aware of scams and fraudsters who imitate the department in an attempt to steal their personal information or money.

About 2.1 million tax credits customers are expected to renew their annual claims by 31 July 2022 and could be more susceptible to the tactics used by criminals who mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.

In the 12 months, to April 2022, HMRC responded to nearly 277,000 referrals of suspicious contact received from the public. Fraudsters use phone calls, text messages and emails to try and dupe individuals – often trying to rush them to make decisions. HMRC will not ring anyone out of the blue threatening arrest – only criminals do that.

If you have any doubts we suggest you don’t reply directly and contact us straight away. Search GOV.UK for our ‘scams checklist’ and to find out ‘how to report tax scams’.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services