Fees and allowances

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Understanding what allowances and fees a foster carer is entitled to can be a challenge due to differences throughout the UK and different policies adopted by fostering services. At The Fostering Network, we have resources, information, campaigns, helplines and an online community that can help foster carers understand more about what they are entitled to.

Allowances

All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. This should cover food, clothes, toiletries and all other expenses incurred in looking after a fostered child.  

Allowances are set at local level and vary widely across the UK, and according to the age and needs of a child, but in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, foster carers should receive at least the national recommended rates.

Scotland does not currently have recommended minimum allowances for foster carers, although the Scottish Government has committed to making national recommendations in the near future.

Read The Fostering Network's policy on allowances. The Fostering Network is no longer publishing recommended minimum allowances. Find out more.

Fees

Fee payments can be made on top of allowances to recognise a foster carers’ time, skills and experience. While all foster carers receive an allowance, there is no requirement for fee payments to be made. As a result only around 50 per cent of foster carers receive a fee or ‘reward’ element for the work that they do caring for children, and the amount varies hugely. Usually fee-paid carers receive payment only when they have a child in placement.

Payments and allowances should be separate and clearly identified so that foster carers know which portion of their fostering income should be spent on caring for the child in their care, and which is for the job that they do. However, some fostering services will make a lump sum ‘financial package’ which does not make the split clear.

As a foster carer you are classed as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, so you need to register with HMRC. You may also be able to claim a range of benefits.

Read our policy on pay for foster carers. 

How we can help foster carers

Our recommendations and campaign work

We carry out an annual survey of fostering services in England, Northern Ireland or Wales to ensure that they are all paying allowances above the national recommended minimum levels. If you foster in one of these countries and think you receive less than the recommended minimum level, email our campaigns team with more details.
 
The Scottish Government has committed to making national recommendations in the near future and is currently undertaking research to this end. We continue to campaign to ensure that this commitment becomes a reality.
 

We push for improvements in national governmental minimum rates and offer advice to foster care associations and foster carers to help with local level negotiations.

We believe that all foster carers should be paid for the job that they do, and campaign to change the current lottery of fee payments.

Our helplines

Our member helplines provide confidential, independent and impartial advice for foster carers in the UK.
 

Our online community

Our members also have exclusive access to our online community where you can log in to share your experience and get advice from other foster carers. The community is a safe and secure area to discuss topics including being a foster carer and looking after a child, as well as advice on finances.

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