Byline: Andrew Picken Scottish Political Reporter
THOUSANDS of Scots who take in the children of troubled family members are facing a postcode lottery on vital payments which help prevent youngsters going into state care.
A new study by Citizens Advice Scotland has found so-called kinship carers - who look after relatives' children because the parents are unable to do so - are missing out on allowances promised to them by the SNP more than two years ago.
The consumer rights group found that many Scottish councils make no payments to the thousands of grandparents, aunts and uncles who undertake care duties for family members, while many others give as little as [pounds sterling]23 a week.
A deal between the 32 local authorities and the Scottish Executive was meant to give kinship carers new allowances of between [pounds sterling]119 and [pounds sterling]198 a week, placing them on a par with foster carers.
But eight councils have still to start dishing out the payments and the remaining 24 are offering varying payment rates.
There are an estimated 13,000 children in kinship care in Scotland. More than 10,000 of those children are looked after by family under informal arrangements which help to prevent many youngsters going into state care.
Susan McPhee, Acting Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: 'The evidence in our latest research report reveals many examples of kinship carers being let down by the system.
'Too often, the modest level of assistance that can make all the difference to a kinship care household is either missing or the route to accessing it is long and tortuous.
'The people taking on the care of these vulnerable children are not just providing a home for kith and kin, they're doing a valuable service to society. …