The English government recently declared an increase in the financial allowances for foster carers, set to take effect in the upcoming fiscal year.
This 6.88% raise in the National Minimum Allowance, revealed in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ financial policy statement, reflects a balance between inflation rates and local government affordability.
The Fostering Network has expressed approval of this increase, which surpasses the current 4.6% inflation rate, as a step towards improving outcomes for children and young people in foster care. Despite this, they believe more is needed, pointing out that the new rates are still below their recommended levels for fully covering a child’s care costs.
Investigations by The Fostering Network indicate that a significant portion of local authorities in England offer foster care allowances below the national minimum. The disparity in allowances throughout the UK is also noteworthy, with some children receiving significantly less support than others, amounting to a yearly difference of over £10,000.
The chronic underfunding of foster care, combined with the recent cost-of-living crisis, has put considerable strain on foster carers. This has led to some leaving the system and has discouraged potential new carers. Adequate financial support is crucial for foster carers to effectively support and nurture vulnerable children and young people, enabling them to flourish. 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.”