All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanence: Report on Adoption Support Fund

This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate due to take place on 7 November 2019 on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanence’s report, published in July 2019, 'Investing in families: the Adoption Support Fund beyond 2020.

The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) was introduced in May 2015 and is intended to provide funding to adopted children and their families to pay for therapeutic postadoption support.

The Government has reported that, since its introduction, the ASF has had a positive effect on adopted children and their families. In December 2018, the then Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, announced funding to the scheme would be increased. The Government has guaranteed funding for the scheme until March 2020.

In its July 2019 report, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Adoption and Permanence also concluded the ASF was currently having a positive transformative effect. It argued the Government should provide longer-term funding for the scheme after March 2020.

The APPG made several other recommendations. For example, it argued that some children and families were failing delays in accessing the ASF. In addition, Voluntary Adoption Agencies were unable to apply directly for the funding. The report recommended that improvements should be made to the scheme to address these issues. It also identified administrative burdens on social workers regarding the ASF and recommended that this should be addressed.

The Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies and the CoramBAAF—a membership organisation for agencies and individuals in family placement services—have both supported the APPG’s recommendation that funding for the ASF be secured after March 2020.

Members in both Houses have spoken in support of the continuation of the ASF, including members of the APPG. In May 2019, during a debate in the House of Lords on adopted children and schools three members of the APPG—Lord Russell of Liverpool, the Earl of Listowel (Crossbench) and Lord Triesman (Labour)—spoke in support of the ASF. The Shadow Spokesperson for Education, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, also argued for the fund to be protected after 2020.

In July 2019, during a debate in the House of Commons on early years family support, Victoria Prentis (Conservative MP for Banbury), similarly called on the Government to safeguard the continuation of the ASF. Ms Prentis is an officer of the APPG.

In April 2019—responding to a written question—the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, confirmed the continuation of the fund beyond 2020 would be subject to the upcoming spending review process. On 4 September 2019, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, announced the spending review would not now take place until 2020.