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Foster carers at risk under government welfare reforms

Date:28 JUL 2011

ChildrenThe Fostering Network has launched a new campaign to ensure foster carers are not worse off under government's plans for welfare reform and the introduction of the new Universal Credit in 2013.

There are concerns that a number of the measures in the Welfare Reform Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, could leave foster carers worse off.  

Under the proposed system foster carers can be asked to find other work while a child is in placement. However, this is not an option for many and could have a negative impact on the care they provide to a fostered child.

Many foster carers are also being asked to seek alternative work as soon as a placement comes to an end, even though their fostering service could ask them to look after another child at any time.

 The charity is urging the government to resolve these issues and ensure that foster carers with a child in placement are deemed to be ‘in work' and will continue to receive benefits and Universal Credit for up to eight weeks when placements end.

Foster carers in social housing could be further penalised by the government's plans to reduce housing benefit for households deemed to be ‘under-occupied'. As rooms for fostered children are not included and seen as spare room these foster carers could see their benefit cut by up to 23 per cent.

Vicki Swain, campaigns manager at the Fostering Network, said: "As the foster care workforce is not properly paid many foster carers rely on tax credits and benefits to be able to foster. Therefore, the Government must treat them fairly in its plans for welfare reform.

"We have been working with ministers and civil servants behind the scenes but now feel we need to launch a public campaign to mobilise the workforce and really draw attention to these issues."