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Separated Families

Volume 552: debated on Monday 5 November 2012

The Government have already announced a £20 million investment in the development of support for separated families in the current spending review period. This will include provision of an online distributable web application to be launched later in the autumn, and up to £14 million for the new innovation fund to support separated families.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Will he reassure the House that the £14 million innovation fund will be spent on projects that will ultimately benefit children, and will he explain how that will be achieved?

Yes. We have had 100 expressions of interest from voluntary groups and charities, and we have whittled that down to about 30. All are trying to build on existing work that enables parents, when they are separating, to deal with each other in a mature way in the interests of the children. That is the central aspect of our new strategy.

When family breakdowns occur, grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives often have to step into the breach and a kinship care situation arises. Will the Minister assure me that he is talking to his colleagues in other Departments to make sure that when that situation happens, particularly in an emergency, support is given to those who step up to the plate?

I agree that we need to support kinship carers, such as grandparents. One change that our Department has made is that, for example, where a mother is going out to work and is not using the national insurance credits that she would have gained for receiving child benefit, they can be passed to a grandparent, who may not be of pension age, to make sure that they are not financially disadvantaged. That is just one of the things we are doing to support that important group.