To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 2 December 2022 to Question 98806 on Foster Care: Finance, if she will make an assessment of the financial impact on foster parents of not uprating the national minimum fostering allowance in line with September 2022 consumer prices index inflation; what mechanisms are in place to determine the adequate level of uprating necessary to ensure that no one suffers financially because of their fostering role; if she will make it her policy to uprate the national minimum fostering allowance in line with September 2022 consumer prices index inflation; and if she will make a statement.
Foster parents deserve high quality support to provide safe and loving homes for children in their care. The department is working with stakeholders to understand the impact of financial pressures on foster carers, particularly in the context of the cost of living. The department is also in the process of looking at the annual uplift to the national minimum allowance (NMA), with the next update to come into effect in April 2023. The NMA is not considered a wage or income for the foster parent but money to support the child in the family.
It is the responsibility of fostering service providers to set their own payment structures in accordance with local needs, using the NMA. This includes reviewing their rates each year and setting out a clear policy on what payments their foster carers can expect. This policy should include how other necessary expenses are covered for the care, education, and reasonable leisure interests for any child living with them in a fostering placement and any additional fees that the foster carer is entitled to. In 2021, the department wrote to any local authority that failed to provide the NMA.
Foster carers can also benefit from reformed tax and benefit allowances which ensure they receive the best support for their individual financial circumstances, in recognition of their role. As with all aspects of the tax system, the government will keep tax reliefs under review and any decisions on future changes will be taken by the Chancellor in the context of the wider public finances.