Glasgow Council officers accused of ‘undemocratic betrayal’ after overruling pay rise for foster carers
Carers have warned that cuts to child allowance are preventing fostered children from having the same life chances as their peers
Campaigners have hit out at Glasgow City Council officers who refused to implement a 10% increase in child allowances which was voted through in the February budget.
What are foster carers campaigning for?
After months of campaigning, foster carers in Glasgow thought they had secured a 10% rise in the child allowance, after an amendment brought by the Scottish Greens and passed by Glasgow City Council recommended the increase.
However, council officers in the Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) at Glasgow City Council implemented a 6% increase for carers with children aged 0-4, and an 8% increase for carers with children aged 5-10.
Campaigners have criticised this failure to honour the council’s democratic will as a “betrayal,” and claimed that only 40% of foster carers across the city will benefit.
Kenny Millard, Chair of the Foster Care Worker Branch (IWGB), said: “It is totally unacceptable that unelected officers in the HSCP have decided to stand in the way of Glasgow’s democratic process.
“The 10% increase to child allowances voted on by our elected representatives will make a huge difference to the lives of our foster carers and the vulnerable children in their care who have seen incomes frozen for a decade.
“Because of the HSCP’s deeply undemocratic decision, hundreds of foster carers across our city are facing another year of real-terms cuts to their income at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing.”
The child allowance rate has been frozen for 10 years, amounting to a 24% real-terms cut, while at the same time foster carer pay has been frozen for 12 years - or -30% in real terms.
Carers say these cuts have left them struggling to afford the basics, support themselves and provide the level of care children need.
This situation has been aggravated by the cost of living crisis, as inflation rates have soared to 7% and are expected to go higher.
Foster carer Jane Wright said that as the cost of living is dramatically rising, the child allowance “no longer covers the essentials” and that the system relies on “the financial sacrifices” of carers.
She said: “Care experienced young people aren’t asking for extras. They just want to have the same life chances as their peers but this pay freeze is preventing that. Almost every employee in the country will have at least a small rise this year but teenagers in the care of Glasgow City Council are being denied any sort of an increase and the system continues to rely on the financial sacrifices of their carers.
“It is not fair to expect the love and goodwill of kinship and foster carers to fund the basics when we are already struggling financially ourselves.”
How much does the council spend on foster care?
Many foster carers have also been forced to leave the foster care system for private agencies, which in turn are more costly for the taxpayer.
According to an Freedom of Information request submitted to Glasgow City Council, the authority spends 2.4x more per child on those placed with privatised foster agencies than on those in local-authority homes.
The council spends almost half its foster care budget on private providers, despite these accounting for only a quarter of the total children under its care.
Carers have previously called for the council to invest more in local-authority foster care, which they say would “lessen pressure on public services, boost the local economy and give every child the start they deserve”.
A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “Following a review of expected national allowances, the IJB agreed to uplift allowances for kinship and foster carers with children 0-10 years.
“Glasgow remains as one of the local authorities paying higher than the national average and have been for a number of years.
“We continue to be part of the national debate and await the outcome of ongoing Scottish Government and COSLA discussions around a national decision on fostering fees and allowances.”