Anger as just 40% of Glasgow foster carers get allowance rise

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An East End foster carer could be forced to dip into her pension after an allowance rise was only awarded to those looking after children aged 10 and under.

Union reps claim carers have been let down while “the cost of living is skyrocketing” after proposals for an increase for everyone were ignored.

At budget time in February, Glasgow councillors recommended the Integration Joint Board (IJB) — a partnership between the council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde — lifted the allowance by 10% for all foster and kinship carers.

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However, IJB members, responsible for health and social care services, were presented with two options by officials in March. They could agree to no rise or an increase for carers of children aged 10 or below, which make up 40% of carers in Glasgow.

Members chose the second option, meaning the allowance for kinship and foster carers with children aged four and under will rise from £137.18 to £146 per week. Those looking after children between five and 10 will get an increase from £156.30 to £170.

(Photo: Shutterstock)(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

The foster care worker branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has criticised the decision, saying the increases only equate to a 6% and 8% rise respectively.

An East End-based carer, who asked not to be named, looks after a 15-year-old boy. She said her husband works and she has taken on a part-time job, while looking after her boy, but she is facing digging into her pension as fuel and food prices rise.

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All council foster carers get a weekly £150 fee plus the allowance, which varies depending on the child’s age. A campaign, led by the IWGB, called for the allowance to be lifted after a ten-year freeze. Carers of children between 11 and 15 currently get a £194.54 allowance while the figure is £236.60 for 16 to 18-year-old children.

The woman, who has also raised three birth children, said: “My outgoings are through the roof for a 15-year-old. He eats like a horse. Who is making this up?

“I’ve not had a rise since my boy was four. I feel as if it’s a total injustice. People might say ‘I’m not going to foster at 15 because that’s going to cost me more’.”

In a letter to the council, she said: “Irrespective of a child’s age, all carers should be recognised for their continued commitment and dedication that they show each day.

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“How can a carer continue to fully support a child, which includes ‘good presentation and acceptability of peers’ and ‘build self esteem’ on such a poor allowance? Based on your calculations, the gap between caring for a five-year-old and a fifteen-year-old is £24.54.”

IJB officials reported the 60% of carers who won’t get an allowance rise are “paid above the proposed national allowance”. Their allowance will be “frozen at that level until the outcome of the national review is known”.

A council spokeswoman said: “Following a review of expected national allowances, the IJB agreed to uplift allowances for kinship and foster carers with children 0 to 10 years. Glasgow remains as one of the local authorities paying higher than the national average.

“We continue to be part of the national debate and await the outcome of ongoing Scottish Government and COSLA discussions around a national decision on fostering fees and allowances.”

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At a meeting of Glasgow’s city administration committee last week, Cllr Mhairi Hunter, SNP, city convener for health and social care, said the IJB decided to “increase allowances for those whom we believe may be in detriment once the national recommended allowance is made”.

“There was a level of unhappiness at the council making unfunded requests,” she said. “I’ve been charged with writing a letter to the city treasurer around this, which I am going to do.”

However, Kenny Millard, chair of the foster care worker branch of the IWGB, said a 10% allowance rise would “make a huge difference to the lives of our foster carers and the vulnerable children in their care”.

He said the IJB’s “deeply undemocratic” decision means “hundreds of foster carers across our city are facing another year of real-terms cuts to their income at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing”.

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“This will mean more carers leaving the system for expensive private agencies that cost the council over twice as much.”

The union added the decision to provide the UK’s first trade union recognition agreement between a council and foster carers has also been overturned.

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