It’s no secret that a lot of the hesitation towards becoming a foster carer comes from a fear of finances. Many of the questions we get surround worries about whether fostering will be affordable. Now more than ever, amidst the cost-of-living crisis, we are here to soothe those nerves that may hold people back from making that enquiry.
Fees and Allowances
When you become a foster carer, you receive both a fostering fee and a maintenance allowance on a fortnightly basis. But what’s the difference between the two? Well, a maintenance allowance covers the costs of everything that you need to care for a child, including food, clothing, transport, personal items and household expenses. The fee, on the other hand, is effectively your salary for the time and skill dedicated to foster caring. You are not expected to cover the cost of fostering yourself, so there is no need to rule yourself out due to lack of disposable income. This is also another good reason to choose TACT to foster with, because we can 1) offer a more generous and comfortable allowance than many Local Authorities, and 2) are a charity, so do not profit off of vulnerable children in care like other Independent Fostering Agencies do.
The exact amount that you are paid all depends on how many children you are caring for, how old they are, whether they have any additional needs as well as the type of fostering you are providing. For more specific information on how much foster carers are paid, read about our fees and allowances here.
Children in care deserve to celebrate birthdays and religious festivals, as well as go on summer holidays, with as much excitement as their peers do, and we encourage this with extra payments. For every birthday of a child in your care, you receive enough to cover celebrations/presents etc, and the same goes for religious festivals. As for holidays, we offer an extra weekly allowance for up to six weeks, per child in your care. So, don’t write off that summer break!
Fostering and Working
It is a common misconception that you absolutely cannot balance fostering and working. We refer to this as a myth simply because whilst it is vital to have enough time to dedicate to children in your care, everyone’s situation is different, and fostering and working is figured out on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you are the secondary carer in a couple and your partner does not work, there is no reason why you cannot work. Often, it depends on the flexibility of your work – consultancy or zero hours contracts can often work alongside fostering if you are able to pick and choose the hours which are taken on. The important thing is that you have the time available to dedicate to a child as and when it is necessary. Just enquire with us and we can chat to you about your situation.
But what about tax and benefits? Well, the maintenance allowance will be tax free and will not affect any benefits you’re currently receiving. As for the fostering fee, you will be liable for special tax arrangements which in most cases result in very low, if any, tax on your income. This is because, as a foster carer, you are officially classed as self-employed. Also, you don’t have to pay tax on the first £10,000 you receive from fostering, because of the fixed tax exemption. As well as that, there is also tax relief of up to £250 per week for each child in your care. To put this into perspective, if you had a teenager (over 11) in your care for a year, you wouldn’t pay tax on your income up to £23,000. Again, your benefits will still be paid alongside your fostering payments.
For further information about working out your taxable income and eligibility for claiming working tax credit, visit the gov.uk page Help With The Cost Of Fostering.
*Please note that the minimum fostering allowance rates are quoted here. TACT pays foster carers a more competitive fee than what is stated on the gov.uk website.
All in all, the idea that fostering is only for those with high income and savings is completely false, and we hope we have quelled any worries that fostering isn’t an option for you. The most important requirement is care and dedication to children and young people – and a spare room! If you are interested, please get in touch with us today by filling out the enquiry form on this page. We can give you a callback or send you our Information Pack.