The Fostering Network has campaigned for foster care allowances over the course of its more than 40-year history. Following the introduction of minimum allowances for fostered children in Wales, Northern Ireland and England, Scotland is now the only country in the UK not to have a national minimum allowance.
About allowances in Scotland
As a result of our pressure, the Scottish Government is currently conducting a review of fostering, kinship care, and adoption allowances, and has convened a working group in which we are involved. After years of campaigning it now looks likely that progress will be made.
How you can help
Unfortunately there is a glaring omission in the Scottish Government's review: continuing care allowances (i.e. those allowances paid to carers looking after a young person whose foster care placement has changed to a continuing care placement once they turn 16 or 18) are NOT included.
Background to the campaign
Allowances for foster carers are supposed to cover the costs of looking after a fostered child. In Scotland, these allowances vary widely between local authorities. The Scottish Government’s stated ambition is to ‘make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.’ We believe that, in order to achieve this, it is vital to ensure that fostered children do not receive different standards of care depending on where in Scotland they live.
A 2016 freedom of information request to all 32 local authorities in Scotland has shown that some foster carers in Scotland received as little as £77.69 per week which meant that they were having to subsidise the care of children on behalf of the local authority. The 2015 announcement by the Scottish Government that kinship carers in Scotland would receive the same allowances as foster carers means that until minimum allowances are introduced they are also condemning kinship carers to the same postcode lottery as foster carers.
As long ago as 2006, the Scottish Government promised to look into foster care allowances as part of the National Fostering and Kinship Care Strategy consultation. In 2014, in response to the Foster Care Review, the Scottish Government said that they would form a steering group to look into developing a scheme of allowances. In November 2015, the Scottish Government reiterated their commitment to forming a steering group to look into developing a scheme of allowances. In late 2016 there was a reassurance that a working group would be brought together to explore the issue of allowances. However, as yet, despite a decade of promises, there has been no progress and there are no timescales or details.
We believe that the Scottish Government should implement without delay a system of national minimum allowances, which ensures that all foster carers are given an allowance which covers the costs of fostering. We are concerned that the introduction of minimum allowances could be drawn in to the root and branch review of the child care system that is due to take place in Scotland - this must not be allowed to happen as it will delay what has already been committed to.
The issue has received press coverage and we have written to all MSPs to inform them of the situation. We are hopeful that the Scottish Government will come into line with the rest of the UK soon.
To find out more about our allowances campaign in Scotland contact our campaigns team.
While England, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have national minimum allowances set by their respective governments, not all fostering services comply. Therefore every year The Fostering Network checks the allowances paid by all local authorities in England and Wales, and health and social services trusts in Northern Ireland, to ensure they meet national minimum levels, and campaigns for them to be brought up to these levels where they are falling short.
Additionally during 2016, The Fostering Network conducted a number of different surveys for England which looked at foster carer allowances and payments:
1. Survey of foster carers on allowances and payments (Oct 2016)
2. Annual survey of local authority foster care allowances (Nov 2016)
3. Annual survey of local authority staying put allowances (Nov 2016)
4. Staying put survey (June 2016).
This report looks at the findings from each of the surveys and pulls these together to form an overall picture of allowances in England.