‘Unsung heroine’ wins landmark foster care case against Tower Hamlets Council in High Court

Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice - Credit: Archant

An “unsung heroine” has won a landmark discrimination case against Tower Hamlets Council over foster care.

A High Court judge said the council’s different treatment of foster parents related to children in their care and those who are not was unlawful.

The woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – complained after being paid less than an unrelated foster parent would be for caring for three of her brother’s children, all of whom have learning difficulties.

Despite being blind in one eye, the woman gave up her job and moved house to care for the “demanding and exhausting” children at the request of Tower Hamlets Council.

Delivering his judgement, Mr Justice Males paid tribute to “one of the unsung heroines of our society” after she stepped in to help.

“I am absolutely delighted with the result”, said the woman.

“However I am disappointed that it has taken a High Court ruling and all the additional legal expenses to make the council do what the government directed them to do in early 2011.

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“At this difficult economic time, I expect the legal expenses will add to the financial pressures faced by the council.”

Acting for the woman, Rebecca Chapman of Ridley and Hall solicitors in Huddersfield said criticised Tower Hamlets Council for not following the government’s 2011 guidelines on fostering allowances.

“Although the guidance was pointed out to the local authority they decided to continue with their discriminatory policy”, she added.

Tower Hamlets Council claimed it was not alone in distinguishing between related and unrelated foster parents, adding the demands on unrelated fosterers were often greater.

The ruling is set to pave the way for thousands of other carers who look after relatives’ loved ones receiving up to double their present level of financial support.

Tower Hamlets Council has three months to review its policy following the ruling.