Foster carers miss out on pensions

Foster care charity the Fostering Network is urging the
government to end discrimination in the pension system, which
leaves many foster carers with inadequate provision for their
retirement, writes Clare Jerrom.

Currently, parents looking after their children at home receive
‘home responsibilities protection’ through child benefit, which
reduces the number of years they must work to receive a

But foster parents do not receive child benefit and therefore do
not receive protection for their pension. Foster carers are
therefore reaching retirement to find they do not qualify for full
or even part state pension.

Vicki Swain, Fostering Network’s policy and campaigns
manager, said: “Foster carers across the country are finding
themselves without adequate financial provision for their
retirement, despite having spent the best part of their working
lives caring for foster children.

“Yet it would only take a simple change in the law to give these
foster carers the same protection for their pensions as those
staying at home to look after their own children,” she added.

Minister for pensions Ian McCartney MP is currently considering
proposals to extend provision of home responsibilities protection
to all foster carers, to cover the entire length of time they

The Fostering Network believes 15,000 single or unmarried carers
will be worst hit as they cannot rely on a spouse’s national
insurance contributions. But all 40,000 foster carers in the UK
could potentially be affected.

A survey of 3,000 Fostering Network members found that 90 per
cent were concerned about pension provision. The responses found
many carers were unaware of the impact fostering would have on
their pension.

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