- 1972-1998 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
0.3 cubic metres
Name of creator
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.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Place access points
Name access points
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion