Scottish foster carers have criticised the Scottish government’s failure to introduce a national minimum allowance, as many say they are using their own money to care for foster children.
The Fostering Network Scotland has published figures showing the “true cost of looking after a fostered child”, which reveals many carers are not receiving enough.
Sara Lurie, director of the Fostering Network Scotland, said: “It’s about time the Scottish government showed that it fully values children in care by making sure that all foster carers across the country have enough money to pay for the things that their fostered children need.
“At a time when more children are coming into care and 1,700 more foster families are needed in Scotland it is vital that the government addresses this as a matter of urgency. How does it propose to recruit more foster carers to look after some of the most vulnerable children if it can’t even guarantee that they will be able to make ends meet?”
Lurie argued that the charity’s survey showed half of local authorities giving carers adequate allowances, demonstrating this was “not an impossible task”.
“The only way to bring an end to this postcode lottery is to make payment of proper allowances a statutory requirement. Otherwise foster carers and fostered children will continue to lose out,” Lurie added.
In response to the study, a Scottish government spokesperson said: “Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the levels of allowances. We support them in moving towards payments at the Fostering Network’s recommended rate and are pleased that an increasing number of councils are doing so. However, these are decisions best made locally.”
The figures show that it costs at least £125.09 per week to look after a child under the age of four, rising to £215.74 for a child aged 16 to 18. This amount takes into account the extra costs of food, travel, pocket money, clothing, school uniforms and equipment, as well as an amount towards holidays, birthdays and religious festivals.
National minimum allowances have been set in England and Northern Ireland.