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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Foster care battles

by New Worker correspondent

IN GLASGOW, foster carers are fighting the SNP-run council who are refusing to increase allowances. The non-TUC street union, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents many carers, has taken up their cause.

Some experienced carers say they are having to give up the profession due to underfunding.

In July carers submitted an official complaint to the council after the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board (GCIJB) implemented increases of between 6–8 per cent for a minority of foster carers and kinship carers in the city.

This, says IWGB, represents a 28 per cent real-terms cut to allowance incomes after the board rejected a 10 per cent increase voted by the main city council in the annual budget.

The allowances are such that 60 per cent of Scotland’s foster carers don’t get enough to cover the full cost of raising a child as the allowances are intended. Some are leaving the council for private agencies that receive government subsidies.

Late in September they held a protest in Glasgow’s George Square to call for the full allowance, saying foster carer fees haven’t changed since 2009.

Elaine Watson, one of those affected, said: “All year, everything has been going up. My food bill is skyrocketing and my heating bills are three times higher than this time last year. But my income hasn’t changed in nearly a decade.

“We are professionals who work hard to give the children in our care the best start in life. After working tirelessly through the pandemic with little support, we feel under-valued, and we are denied a real voice in the decision-making processes that impact us and the children in our care.”

The Council claim to be honouring a national agreement, saying that: “Kinship and foster carers with children aged 0–4 years have had payments increase from £137.18 to £146 per week, and kinship and foster carers with children aged 5–10 years have had payments increase from £156.30 per week to £170 per week.”


The specific demands are: to secure the council-approved 10 per cent increase; an increase in the foster-carer fees, unchanged since 2009; increases in fuel allowances; free school meals for foster children; council tax exemptions and other support currently available for people on universal credit.

The President of the IWGB, Alex Marshall, added that: “Glasgow’s foster care system is in crisis. Most carers in the city haven’t seen their income change in over a decade.

“February’s budget recommendations showed that the council recognised the urgent need to tackle the crisis by increasing the child allowances. But unelected staff in the Integration Joint Board have chosen to deny these children the money they desperately need. All the while, millions of pounds continue to be wasted on private foster care agencies. Many foster carers will not last another year of this drastic underfunding, and if the council does not take urgent action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, experienced carers will be forced to move to expensive private providers, costing the council even more money.”

In North Yorkshire, 295 foster carers are to get a second increase in allowances this year. They are to get four per cent to assist with energy bill increases. This comes on top of an earlier 5.4 per cent rise that came into force in April.

Early last month the Department of Health (Northern Ireland) increased it by three per cent but pointed out that “all families are facing unprecedented increases in their cost of living, with inflation currently at 10.1 per cent”.

To remedy this, it said “Governments across the UK should undertake a comprehensive review of the minimum levels of fostering allowances set in their respective countries using up-to-date evidence to ensure that they cover the full costs of looking after a child”.