fonds FF - Family Fund Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Family Fund Archive


  • 1972-1998 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.3 cubic metres

15 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

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.

Archival history

The collection was retained by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation before being acquired by the Family Fund Trust in 2007.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute by the Family Fund Trust in 2007. Additions were made to the archive in 2009.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Administrative records, including papers relating to the foundation of the Family Fund, 1972-1973, JRMT trustees meeting papers, 1972-1996, Management Committee meeting papers, 1972-1988, Management Board meeting papers, 1992-1994, Family Fund trustees meeting papers, 1995-1996, papers of the secretary, 1973-1975, reviews of the Family Fund, 1980-1985; financial records, including financial statements, 1976-1987, schedules of grants, 1981-1987, reports, 1975-1996, papers of the finance officer, 1975-1987, and related correspondence, 1973-1988; staff records, including meeting papers, 1974-1998; staff lists, 1981, 1986; newsletters, 1983-1998; and related correspondence, 1974-1992; research and advisory records, including Consultative Committee meeting papers, 1973-1978, Medical Advisory Sub-Committee meeting papers, 1973-1983, Family Fund Research Advisory Group meeting papers, 1992-1995, Family Fund Research Committee meeting papers, 1995-1996, and related correspondence, 1975-1992; records of applications and grants, including case files, 1980-1986, guidance notes, 1972-1991, and independent review of grants payment system, 1995; public relations records, including meeting papers, 1973-1975, reports, 1973-1981, publicity papers, 1973-1974, press releases, 1972-1982, written answers to parliamentary questions, 1974-1977, newsletters, 1975-1977, leaflets, 1973-1995, press cuttings, 1973-1995, correspondence, 1973, and photographs, 1974, 1976; records of the Social Policy Research Unit, including research papers, 1974-1998, conference papers, 1974-1976, statistical analysis of applications and grants, 1984-1986, and Family Fund trust papers, 1998.


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. Many of these records contain sensitive personal and confidential information which is likely to be restricted under data protection legislation and the terms of deposit. For records less than 100 years old, please contact the Borthwick Institute via email or letter. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute. This includes all material received up to and including 2009.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Material relating to the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation can be found in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Historical Archive at the Borthwick Institute.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Description compiled by James Towe, May 2009.


  • English



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