Fostering in Lancashire: new allowances announced - and an appeal for more carers
Foster carers in Lancashire will receive an extra £156 in basic allowances over the next twelve months, to meet the national minimum standard for fees paid in return for the service they provide.
However, locally-set enhanced rates for carers with particular skills or experience will be frozen for the financial year 2020/21.
The uplift in basic allowances applies to those caring for children in all age groups and amounts to £3 per week extra for each child. The scale will now range from £135 per week for 0-4-year-olds to £198 per week for 16 and 17-year-olds.
The additional top-up fees, which have been offered by Lancashire County Council since 2011, will remain, respectively, at £115 and £230 per week extra for so-called ‘tier 2’ and ‘tier 3’ carers.
The decision was taken at a virtual meeting of the authority’s cabinet, at which County Cllr Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said that foster carers represented “excellent value for money for the work they do” – and appealed for more people to think about taking it up.
“We want to encourage people to consider fostering and, to those who have fostered in the past and taken a step away from it, to think about how valuable their experience would be at the current time and maybe come forward again.
“During the current pandemic, the work of these carers has [increased] and is of a very different nature, in some instances, than usual.
“The [allowance] proposals are very important in demonstrating our commitment to foster carers. We have a very generous and comprehensive allowance scheme – which not only meets the required government minimum standards, but also allows us to pay the carers a range of different allowances depending on their skill levels, experience and the service they are able to offer.
“It’s a timely moment to recognise the huge contribution which carers make and to say how grateful we are for them,” County Cllr Williamson added.
Special, age-related allowances for occasions and payments for one-off costs will also remain unchanged for the year ahead.
To help cover the cost of holidays, carers receive payments of between £287 and £541, birthdays attract a flat fee of £114 for all ages and allowances for religious festivals range from £172 to £195.
Fostering service managers can also make discretionary payments of up to between £440 and £695 for clothing when a child first enters foster care and up to £263 for a school uniform if the placement requires the youngster to change schools. The latter payment can also be used for work clothing for the eldest teenagers in foster care.
Council leader Geoff Driver paid tribute to County Hall’s fostering department staff for consistently receiving a ‘good’ rating from the regulator OFSTED.