The Fairer Fostering Partnership, which is chaired by TACT CEO Andy Elvin, has sent an open letter to the incoming Secretary of State for Education, Kit Malthouse, urging higher fees and allowances for foster carers to help them through the cost of living crisis. While TACT will continue to press the government to provide more financial support to foster carers, we are increasing our fees to help our foster carers through the cost of living crisis.
Dear Secretary of State,
Firstly, congratulations on your new role and welcome to the Department of Education.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Fairer Fostering Partnership. We are an umbrella organisation of charitable and not-for-profit fostering agencies across the UK. With our charity and non-profit status, all of the income we receive for providing foster care is reinvested directly into our services for children and support for foster carers.
I would like to draw your urgent attention to the potential crisis facing capacity within the care system owing to the cost-of-living crisis. The Competition and Markets Authority found serious deficiencies in the children’s social care ‘market’, one of which is the lack of a mechanism for fostering providers to receive inflationary increases in fees. In essence this means that we are financially penalised for doing what is best for children, providing long term care, as the fee we agree on at the outset must remain until the child moves on. When inflation was low this was problematic but manageable, it is now, potentially, catastrophic.
Urgent action needs to be taken so that we can raise foster carers’ fees and allowances. Local authority in-house fostering capacity is decreasing and this will accelerate as foster carers find they can no longer afford to foster. This will lead to cost increases of 300%- 400% for local authorities as they will be forced to use more residential care.
Local authorities report that they have no funding available to address this issue and we are therefore urging you to take immediate steps to support foster carers financially.
In addition to straightforwardly providing more funding specifically for foster carers, other approaches could include:
- Encouraging all local authorities to exempt all foster carers from council tax.
- Ask HM Treasury to raise the tax threshold for foster carers, as since it not been increased since its introduction in 2003.
We would also like to propose that you convene an urgent roundtable that might include ourselves, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Independent Review team to look at how we might together address this issue and prevent significant attrition of foster carers. Not only would a shortage of foster carers be wholly contrary to the best interests of children, but it would also be financially ruinous for local authorities.
Thank you for your consideration of this issue and I look forward to your response.
TACT CEO & Chair of the Fairer Fostering Partnership