Councils in England need an extra £35m a year to meet the cost of paying their existing foster carers recommended minimum allowances, a new survey has revealed.
The poll of English local authorities by the Fostering Network found that 40% of foster carers were being paid below the minimum weekly rates suggested by the charity, which range from £112.07 for under-fives to £191.37 for over-16s.
There is currently no set payment that councils have to make to foster carers, despite the government’s pledge last year to set up and fund a national minimum allowance. The government is now expected to wait until early next year to launch a consultation on the issue.
The Fostering Network found councils’ weekly rates for foster carers varied hugely, with many falling well below the suggested minimum.
The worst offenders were councils in the East Midlands, all of which paid below the charity’s minimum rate. Nottingham City admitted to paying its foster carers as little as £56.56 per week.
However, the Fostering Network said there had been had been a gradual increase in the number of councils reaching the recommended pay levels. London councils were the best performers, with only 6% paying below the charity’s minimum rates.