Leeds: Fostering fees to increase

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Council chiefs are set to increase the allowances paid to the city’s army of foster carers.

The news comes as the authority aims to recruit more in-house foster carers to help cut the soaring amount it pays to independent fostering agencies for external placements.

Leeds is believed to pay its foster carers amongst the lowest rates of all English cities.

But the council’s budget for payments to independent fostering agencies leapt from £5.35 million in 2011/12 to £12.46 million in 2012/13.

The council’s executive board will debate proposes to increase the allowances to the recommended minimum set by Fostering Network, a national charity that works on behalf of foster carers.

They calculate their minimum recommended rate by assessing the actual costs of raising a foster child for four different age groups.

Proposals will see allowances increased to 90 per cent of the Fostering Network rate from October 2013 and 100 per cent from April 2014.

Carers for children aged 16 and over are losing out by over £40 per week when compared with the Fostering Network rate.

Councillor Stewart Golton, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “For years Leeds has paid its foster carers some of the lowest allowances in the country, which is a shameful state of affairs for a council that calls itself ‘child-friendly’.

“I’m really pleased that our foster carers are finally going to be paid what they deserve, but why has it taken the council so long to get to this stage?

“Poor pay for foster carers has been one of the main reasons why so many have left the council for independent agencies in recent years. I’m hopeful that we’ll now start to see more and more carers returning to our in-house service, which will save the council money in the long run.”

Photo: Neil Cross

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