New pension entitlements for foster carers

Up to 8,000 foster carers will be entitled to the same pension
provision as parents who do not work from 1 April, the Government
said this week, writes Anabel Unity

People who stay at home to raise children – therefore not
paying national insurance contributions – receive home
responsibilities protection (HRP) to reduce the number of years
they have to work in order to get a full state pension. From next
month this entitlement will apply to registered foster carers and
will cover the time they are waiting for a placement.

Announcing the HRP extension, work and pensions secretary Andrew
Smith said: “For too long foster carers up and down the country
have been denied improved pension rights. This reform will reward
foster carers for the valuable work they do.”

Health minister Jacqui Smith added that the change in pension
provision recognises “the vital work of foster carers”.

Fostering Network executive director Gerri McAndrew said the
decision was “a small step” in the right direction but is
disappointed that the protection will not be backdated to before

She said: “It will have no impact whatsoever on the thousands of
carers who are already facing the prospect of a retirement with
little or no state pension – despite the service they have
provided to society by years of caring for other people’s

McAndrew also criticised decision to award the HPR for a maximum
of 20 years, because some foster carers look after children for the
whole of their working lives. “They will still have to make a
choice between accepting a cut in their state pension or having to
give up fostering to work outside the home,” she said.

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