Extending entitlement to the Maternity GrantMonday, November 29th, 2010
New amendment Regulations extend the circumstances in which a person is eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant to those people awarded residence orders; guardians; those with whom children are placed for adoption and those who have adopted a child under a recognised adoption which takes place outside the UK. They also add the father (or other parent) who is not the mother’s partner at the time a Sure Start Maternity Grant is claimed but who is responsible for the child concerned. The current Grant is £500 for each child.
The extension of entitlement is prompted by the decision of the Court of Appeal on the “Francis” case in 2005 (sic). In that case Sara Francis claimed a Sure Start Maternity Grant in respect of her nephew for whom she had been granted a residence order as the child’s mother was unable to look after him. Payment was refused as having a residence order did not meet the requirements for entitlement to Sure Start Maternity Grant.
She appealed to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that her situation was analogous to a person with an adoption order and not to allow a payment constituted discrimination by virtue of Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. The Court of Appeal found in favour of the claimant and granted a declaration that Ms Francis was entitled to a Sure Start Maternity Grant. The Court decided it was not possible to interpret the regulations in a non-discriminatory way and held that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions could decide how to amend the regulations to ensure equal treatment.
Also, the current legislation does not provide for a Sure Start Maternity Grant to be paid to a father when the mother dies in childbirth or where a couple have never been partners and the mother leaves the baby with the natural father who does not require a residence order as his name is on the birth certificate.