Peter Aldous welcomes the Government’s announcement of an additional £5.6 million for legal aid to support family members seeking guardianship of vulnerable children but calls on the Government to make that part of a wider review of the rights of family members, specifically grandparents who are very often best placed to provide a loving home, care and support.
Extended Family Guardianship: Legal Aid
19. Whether the Government are taking steps to ensure that legal aid is available for extended family members who are seeking guardianship of vulnerable children. (904953)
We laid a family statutory instrument in February this year which, among other things, brings special guardianship orders in private law proceedings into the scope of legal aid, injecting a further £5.6 million a year into the system. A special guardianship order can place a child in the care of someone other than their birth parents. That can include family members, including grandparents, and close family friends.
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. The Government’s announcement, which he outlined, of an additional £5.6 million for legal aid to support family members seeking guardianship of vulnerable children is extremely welcome. I would be grateful if he considered whether that could be part of a wider review of the rights of family members, specifically grandparents who are very often best placed to provide a loving home, care and support.
The rights of grandparents have risen up the agenda considerably over the last few years. Both colleagues who have spoken on this issue today, including my hon. Friend, make some valid points. I will give a commitment to discuss it with my colleague Lord Bellamy, who leads on this area, to see what further work we can do.