FOI release

Adoption allowances and settling-in grants

The year in which adoption allowances and settling-in grants were introduced, and the policy change regarding adoptive parents.



  • Date requested: 1 February 2013
  • Date responded: 1 March 2013


Firstly, in what year were adoption allowances (means test dependent), and settling-in grants (means test dependent under some councils), introduced? I can’t find this information on the internet.

Secondly, prior to the introduction of the above payments, adoptive parents were treated the same as birth parents, in respect of help with the cost of child raising. Why was there a policy change?


The Adoption Allowance Regulations 1991, which introduced adoption allowances, came into force on 14 October 1991. You might find it helpful to look at the 1991 regulations, made under section 57A of the Adoption Act 1976 Act, as amended by the Children Act 1989.

The 1991 Regulations replaced adoption agency schemes for payment of adoption allowances under section 57(4) of the 1976 Act. The schemes which were approved by the Secretary of State were revoked on coming into force of the changes made by the Children Act 1989. You may find it helpful to obtain from HMSO a copy of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 9 Adoption Issues. Read the Adoption Act 1976.

The 1991 Regulations have since been replaced with the 2005 Adoption Support Services Regulations.

We have no information about the introduction of settling-in grants. However, the information on adoption allowances (referred to above) reminds agencies that:

the term adoption allowances is intended to apply to a periodic or regular payment payable at intervals to be determined by the agency. Where a single lump sum or capital payment is required in connection with the child’s circumstances – for example, in order to purchase special equipment or to make adaptations to the home – local authorities can assist by exercising powers available in other legislation. This applies, whether an allowance is to be paid by the authority or by another adoption agency (or, of course, whether or not an allowance is paid at all). Such legislation includes the Chronically Sick And Disabled Persons Act 1970 and powers which are available in Part III of the Children Act 1989 in relation to children in need.

As noted above, financial assistance for adoptive parents was available before the introduction of the 1991 Adoption Allowance Regulations, as adoption allowances replaced similar schemes run under section 57(4) of the Adoption Act 1976 (this sub-section was repealed by the Children Act 1989). Adopters were not treated the same as birth parents before the introduction of the Adoption Allowance Regulations in that they were not entitled to a maternity grant or allowance.

Published 18 September 2013