Family Fund

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Family Fund

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust Fund for Families of Handicapped Children (The Family Fund), 1973-1996

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



In 1973, against a backdrop of public campaigning on behalf of families affected by the Thalidomide drug, Sir Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Social Services, and Anthony Barber, Chancellor of the Exchequer, set aside a special fund of £3m. The fund was not to be used for compensation but to help meet the gaps between the essential needs posed by caring for a severely handicapped child and the resources available through families, local communities, and the statutory services.

To administer the fund the government bypassed existing statutory agencies and approached the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust. The Trust accepted responsibility and £3m was credited to them on 21 March 1973. The Family Fund became operational on 2 April 1973 and was intended to run for three years.

The initial £3m funding from the Government was followed by a further £3m in 1975. At this time the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust and the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) agreed to the Fund's life being extended to five years. The Government made a grant of £2.7m for 1976 and committed to a further payment of £2m for each subsequent year.

The Family Fund began as a means to help parents shoulder the practical burdens of caring for children with a severe congenital handicap. In December 1974 the requirement to restrict aid to congenital conditions was dropped, so that medical eligibility became dependent on the severity rather than the cause of disability. Sub-committees and groups included the Consultative Committee, the Medical-Advisory Sub-Committee, the Family Fund Research Advisory Group, and the Family Fund Research Committee.

The Fund also supported a research and advisory role, both internally to inform policy decisions on eligibility and grant making and externally to Government and the social welfare sector. On assuming responsibility for the Fund, the then Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust also established the Family Fund Research Project, later the Social Policy Research Unit, at the University of York to monitor and evaluate the word of the Fund and explore the broader research opportunities in social policy.

By 1978 the Government and the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust had agreed that the Fund would continue, subject to review, on an ongoing but indefinite basis. Subsequent funding would be negotiated on an annual basis with the DHSS and successive departments based on estimates of anticipated demand. The Trust (renamed the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 1990) continued to administer the Fund until it became a legally independent charitable trust on 1 Apr 1996.


Legal status

Today the Family Fund is a York based registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. It covers the whole of the UK and is funded by the national governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Functions, occupations and activities

The Fund helps low-income families caring for a severely disabled child or young person by providing grants that relate to their particular needs.

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

It is managed by its Trustees, with the support of its Chief Executive and Finance Officer.

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (1904-)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Type of relationship

Joseph Rowntree Foundation controls Family Fund

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

University of York, Social Policy Research Unit (1973-)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Type of relationship

University of York, Social Policy Research Unit is the associate of Family Fund

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

Created by James Towe and incorporated into authority record by Sally-Anne Shearn, June 2015.
  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC