National Minimum Allowance for Foster Carers Announced

Children’s Minister Parmjit Dhanda announced today that a national minimum allowance for foster carers will be introduced for the first time in England. This will create a fairer system of payments across the country, helping to ensure that no foster carer is out of pocket due to the costs of looking after children placed with them. The national minimum allowance sets a benchmark for the allowance rates for all foster carers – including ‘family and friends’ carers. From April 2007, the national minimum allowance for a baby will be £100-116 per week, rising to £151-176 per week for an older teenager. The allowance rates paid by fostering providers will be monitored through the inspection process.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, Parmjit Dhanda said: “The role of foster carers is unique and invaluable – they provide the security of a family home for very vulnerable children with varied and complex needs. Getting the support right for foster carers – including financial support – is an important priority for this Government.

“We have already increased funding so that Local Authorities are receiving an extra £22.5m in the current financial year, and £63m in 2007-08, to help them improve the lives of children and young people, for example by providing more support for foster carers. In addition local authorities will continue to receive funding of around £60m per year as part of the Children’s Services Grant, a sum which is in line with funding for the final year of the Choice Protects grant (2005-06) which supported local authorities in improving their fostering services.

“We recognise the real progress that local authorities and independent fostering agencies have made in improving fostering allowances in recent years. However, there is still significant variation across the country, with pockets of low payments that cannot be explained simply by regional differences in the cost of living. We wish to see those local authorities that are currently paying low rates increasing their payments to at least the level of the minimum which we are now announcing. The national minimum allowance is intended to lead to fairer payments for foster carers and more clarity about their entitlements, regardless of where they live.”

The announcement of a national minimum allowance is accompanied by publication of guidance on payment systems to foster carers. This guidance sets out a good practice framework for payment systems and offers a range of ideas and case studies to support improvement in the way in which payments are made. It is intended to serve as a useful resource for all involved in fostering.