Allowances to be fairer in two years

The government has pledged to work with local authorities for
fairer national allowances for foster carers by the end of

In the final debate on the Children Bill last week, junior
education minister Lord Filkin confirmed the government’s
intention to “spend 2006 working with local authorities on
implementing what we think should be more sensible rates”.

This will follow on from consultation work in 2005 with agencies
and local authorities about what rates might be fair and what
anomalies exist in England and Wales.

His reassurances came as the House of Lords accepted an
amendment to the bill from the House of Commons which introduced a
power to enforce the payment of minimum rates.

This would be put into effect “if we do not think that adequate
progress is being made after having investigated these issues
thoroughly with local authorities”.

Chief executive of Baaf Adoption and Fostering Felicity Collier
welcomed Filkin’s comments and the government’s
acceptance of the principle of a minimum rate.

But she called for further assurances that implementation would
not be held up by insufficient resources, pointing out that
guaranteed allowance levels could yield some savings for local
authorities by reducing the turnover of foster carers.

A spokesperson for the Fostering Network, which has long
campaigned for a minimum allowance, said it was crucial for any
minimum rates to cover the true costs of foster caring.

“Otherwise you have carers out of pocket, children go without,
or foster carers stop fostering,” she warned.

The charity claims that some councils are paying less than
half the £108.49 allowance a week it recommends for a foster
carer looking after a young child.

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