Foster carers working for Slough Council face a 50% cut in the weekly fee paid for their first child.
The payment would drop from £400 to £200 if the proposal is approved by councillors on 20 September. Fees for subsequent children would remain at £200.
The Fostering Network believes other councils may follow. Spokesperson Matt Cooper said the organisation had already heard of cuts in training budgets and respite care for foster carers in other parts of the country.
The move has led to fears that council foster carers, who have been paid £400 since 2005, will either give up fostering or move to private agencies. Foster parent Zareen Keeton told BBC Berkshire she had spoken to 40 other carers in the area and three-quarters said they would need to take a different job or move to a private agency.
Cooper said the cuts may make it difficult to recruit foster carers at a time when the sector was already “drastically under-staffed”.
But Clair Pyper, Slough Council’s director of education and children’s services, said the allowance paid to foster carers was still more generous than neighbouring boroughs and was comparable to that paid by the Independent Fostering Agency.
“We value what our foster carers do and we know the children they look after benefit from their care,” Pyper said. “Our support workers have been in touch with foster carers to talk to them about their future plans so we can assess any impact the proposed reduction might have on the service.”
But Cooper said: “No other professional would accept a 50% pay cut so why should foster carers? We understand councils’ budgets are under pressure, but we would be disappointed and concerned if foster carers’ fees are cut.”
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly e-mails