Essex forced to review foster rates

Essex Council is likely to review its allowances for kinship foster carers after agreeing an out-of-court settlement this week with a couple who had threatened to take it to judicial review.

The couple had applied for a review because the council pays a lower weekly allowance to carers who are relatives of children than to professional foster carers.

Essex’s weekly rate for kinship carers looking after children aged up to four is £72, compared with £108 for professional carers.

The couple’s solicitor, Nigel Priestley, said the council’s payments to kinship carers were “plainly illegal” because they failed to recognise a judgment in 2001 by Mr Justice Munby. In a case brought against Manchester Council, he ruled that it had to pay foster carers according to the needs of the children they were caring for, not according to their relationship with a child.

A spokesperson for Essex Council said: “Whenever a case of this type is issued against us we will always examine our policies accordingly.”

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