Shropshire Council

Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) Draft Policy Consultation

  • Period: 03 November 2020 - 14 December 2020
  • Status: Closed
  • Audiences: Everyone
  • Topics: Children's services
  • Type: Public


Shropshire Council has identified the need to make changes to its policy document ‘Financial Support for Children Subject to Special Guardianship Orders’. The purpose of the policy is to provide information to practitioners, Special Guardians and prospective Special Guardians about the financial support available to support families offering a permanent home to a child through Special Guardianship.

The updated policy reflects national developments such as welfare payments, emerging good practice from other local authorities, and feedback from local people. The changes, based on a review, are designed to:

  • Clearly set out and explain Shropshire Council’s policy and procedures
  • Bring the policy document up to date with national developments
  • Ensure the policy is equitable and fair
  • Support improvement in the assessment and review of allowances

Other local authorities have gone through a similar exercise over recent years. Main changes include:

  • Updating the policy to reflect the local use of the Department for Education’s Standardised Means test calculator
  • Update the policy in line with recommended good practice to provide age related allowances. (Previously allowance rates were applied based on the age of the child at the time the order is granted)

The impact of these changes will vary on a case by case basis and those with existing Special Guardianship Orders may find allowances change at the time of review. Some may find their payments increase and others may find that they reduce. Each will be assessed on an individual basis with the overall aim of ensuring a fair and equitable approach using the Department for Education Means Tested Calculator as a basis for calculating allowances. More information is provided in the Questions and Answers.

Shropshire Council is keen to encourage feedback and consult on the draft policy before it is formally approved and implemented. You can find the draft document under documents at the bottom of this page.

It is now important to consult on the draft document before it can be formally approved and implemented. A survey is provided as a way of collecting feedback. Find the survey link on the ‘Get Involved’ section of this webpage.

Questions and answers

What is an SGO?

A special guardianship order (often referred to as an SGO) is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child's 'special guardian'. Special Guardianship offers an option for children needing permanent care outside their immediate birth family. It can meet the needs of children, who need a sense of stability and security but who would benefit from a level of ongoing contact with their birth family, which is usually not associated with adoption.

Special Guardianship aims to:

  • give the carer clear responsibility for all aspects of caring for the child
  • provide a firm foundation on which to build a lifelong permanent relationship between the child and their carer
  • provide legal security
  • preserve the link between the child and their birth family
  • allow access to support services

It is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989 and is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement.

Who can apply for Special guardianship orders?

You must be over 18 years of age and you cannot be the parent of the child in question. You can make an application on your own or jointly with another person. Those who can apply include:

  • Any guardian of the child
  • You have a Child Arrangements Order or a Residence Order for the child
  • Anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years out of the last five years
  • Anyone with the consent of the local authority if the child is in care
  • A local authority foster parent with whom the child has lived for at least one year preceding the application
  • You are a relative of the child and the child has resided with you for at least one year immediately pre-dating an application for a Special Guardianship Order
  • Anyone who has the consent of those with the parental responsibility
  • Anyone who has permission of the Court to make the application

Who is eligible for financial support?

Financial support may be provided to those who are granted Special Guardianship Orders in respect of children who were previously looked after or who would, in the opinion of the Service Manager, otherwise have become looked after if such orders had not been granted.

How is financial support applied?

Carers who are proposing to / caring for a child under a Special Guardianship Order, can request an assessment for support, including financial support. This policy applies where Special Guardianship support has been assessed to be in the best interests of the child or young person. The payment of financial support is at the discretion of Shropshire Council and is subject to assessment; this will consider the means and resources available to the Special Guardian / Prospective Special Guardian.

It is important to ensure that Special Guardians are supported to access benefits to which they are entitled. Shropshire Council will therefore provide the necessary information and support for Special Guardians or Prospective Special Guardian to ensure they are aware of, and taking advantage of, all benefits and Universal / tax credits available to them. The statutory guidance makes it clear that any other payment available to the Special Guardian or Prospective Special Guardian (e.g. grant, benefit, allowance or resource) in respect of their needs as a result of becoming a Special Guardian of the child must be taken into account when determining the amount of any allowance.

Why is a policy needed?

Section 14F Children Act 1989 places a duty on each local authority to make arrangements for the provision within their area of special guardianship support services, which includes counselling, advice, information, where appropriate financial support and such other services as set out in the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 (Amendment 2016). Shropshire Council’s Special Guardianship Policy ensures compliance with these Regulations.

What changes have been made since the last policy?

Main changes include:

  • Updating the policy to reflect the local use of the Department for Education’s Standardised Means test calculator
  • Update the policy in line with recommended good practice to provide age related allowances. (Previously allowance rates were applied based on the age of the child at the time the order is granted)

Will this new policy impact on the amount of financial assistance I receive?

It is not possible to assess impact without undertaking reviews of each case. Applying national good practice and ensuring use of the Department for Education Standardised Means Tested Calculator as a basis for calculating allowances could result in allowances remaining the same, increasing or reducing. The way Shropshire Council applies the policy may also have an impact on timescales and that will be determined by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet after the new policy has been confirmed. Special Guardianship Allowances will be reviewed on a case by case basis. The new policy will be applied incrementally upon the standard annual review. Should carers have concerns following review or disagree with Shropshire Council decisions they can make representations to Shropshire Council (see section 10 of the policy).

You can find examples of how allowances are calculated within Appendix A of the draft policy.

When will the policy be implemented?

The policy will be implemented from 01/04/21. The new policy will be applied upon commencing new SGO allowances. For those carers currently in receipt of an SGO allowance it will be applied incrementally upon the standard annual financial review.

Does the policy cover Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin?

No, this policy relates specifically to Shropshire Council Authority area only. You can find Telford & Wrekin Council’s policy here.

What happens at the end of the consultation?

All of the feedback gathered through the consultation will be considered. This will be collated into a feedback report. Any appropriate amendments will be proposed based on the feedback received. The report with the final policy document will be presented to Shropshire Council’s Cabinet on 8 February 2021 for agreement. Following approval, the policy will be published on Shropshire Council’s website.


Have your say on this draft strategy using our survey. You may find it useful to have a copy of the strategy open to refer to as you complete the survey.

Go to the survey »

If you would like the survey in an alternative format, please email us at where you can request a copy or telephone Shropshire Council’s Customer Services on 0345 678 9000 and explain any support you need to allow you to respond.

You can also respond to this consultation in writing:
Feedback and Insight team
Shropshire Council
Abbey Foregate
Shrewsbury SY2 6ND

Data protection

Information collected in our surveys will only be used by us (Shropshire Council) to inform the immediate and future provision of our services. The information you provide will be kept confidential in accordance with our Privacy Policy. It will not be shared outside of Shropshire Council. Information collected via our online surveys (hosted on the Surveymonkey website) will be stored on SurveyMonkey’s servers in the United States of America and SurveyMonkey gives an undertaking never to disclose the survey questions or your responses to others without permission.