Foster carers in England to receive more money next year as government announces allowance increase


Foster carers in England will receive more money to cover the cost of looking after children and young people after the government announced an uplift to their allowance rates this week. 

From the next financial year there’ll be a 6.88 per cent uplift to the National Minimum Allowance for foster carers in England. The uplift, announced in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Local Government Finance Policy Statement, has been calculated based on inflation and what is affordable for local government. 

The Fostering Network welcomes this increase – which goes beyond the current inflation rate of 4.6 per cent - as it will help ensure children and young people achieve their best possible outcomes. However, it still doesn’t go far enough and falls below The Fostering Network’s own recommended rates which cover the full cost of caring for a child.

Recent Freedom of Information requests by The Fostering Network showed that a third of local authorities in England are providing their foster carers with rates that are below the minimum allowance. It also found that allowances across the whole of the UK vary considerably – with some children receiving up to £198.57 per week less than others - £10,325.64 per year. 

Decades of underfunding for foster care has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, pushing some foster carers to the point of giving up, and deterring others from joining. It’s vital that foster carers receive the right financial support to help vulnerable children and young people in the best way possible so they can go on to thrive. 

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.’ 

About foster carer allowances

All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance from their fostering service when they have a child living with them, which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a child in foster care. This includes food, clothes, toiletries, travel and all other expenses incurred and varies depending on the age of the child. 

Each government of the UK sets its national minimum or recommended allowance for foster carers according to the age and needs of a child, the rates are available here. However, these NMAs still don’t go far enough. 

As part of The Fostering Network’s #CostOfFostering campaign the charity calculated new recommended allowance rates for 2023/24 which will cover the full cost of caring for a child. 

Our calculations supported by Pro Bono Economics, are based on the Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom and Nina Oldfield's ‘The Adequacy of Foster Care Allowances’ and include the additional costs of caring for a child in foster care.  Read The Fostering Network's allowances report here.