Foster carers in England are set to receive increased financial support for the care of children and young people, following the government’s announcement of an uplift to their allowance rates this week.
Starting from the next financial year, there will be a 6.88 per cent increase in the National Minimum Allowance for foster carers in England. This rise, disclosed in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Local Government Finance Policy Statement, has been determined based on inflation and the affordability for local government.
The Fostering Network has expressed appreciation for this increment, exceeding the current inflation rate of 4.6 per cent. They believe it will contribute to better outcomes for children and young people. Nevertheless, they assert that the increase falls short of The Fostering Network’s recommended rates, designed to cover the complete cost of caring for a child.
Recent Freedom of Information requests by The Fostering Network revealed that one-third of local authorities in England provide foster carers with rates below the minimum allowance. Additionally, there is significant disparity in allowances across the entire UK, with some children receiving up to £198.57 less per week than others, equating to £10,325.64 per year.
Years of insufficient funding for foster care have been exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis, leading some foster carers to contemplate quitting and dissuading others from joining. Providing adequate financial support is crucial to assisting vulnerable children and young people in thriving.
Chief executive of The Fostering Network Sarah Thomas said: “We have been calling for an increase in foster care allowances to keep in line with inflation so it’s encouraging to hear the government has listened and increased the National Minimum Allowance again this year in England. This will help take pressure off foster carers and enable them to provide the best care possible for children and young people.
“However foster carers need more – the cost of living crisis paired with longstanding underfunding for foster care means many carers are having to dip into their own pockets to cover the full cost of caring for a child. This is unsustainable and will likely cause more foster carers to leave when there’s already a shortage of foster carers across the country.
“We urge all local authorities and governments across the country to use our recommended allowance rates to relieve the financial burden currently faced by foster carers. We’re also calling for a robust monitoring system to be put in place to ensure all local authorities are paying at least at or above the minimum allowance level.”