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Torbay Council defends foster care payment changes

Torbay Council says all local foster carers were consulted, before payment changes were made.

Torbay Council has defended changes to its payment structure for foster carers, after a workers' union claimed they should be given more money.

The GMB Union in Torbay says the new system is unfair, arguing foster carers should be paid more than the current £400 maximum weekly allowance.

It later criticised the council's plans to give carers different amounts of money, depending on the child's age.

The council has responded, saying all local foster carers will actually receive a pay rise this year.

The organisation also claims the new fee structure follows that of other local authorities.

Councillor Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Torbay Council, said: “We recently worked closely with local foster carers to develop a new fee structure for fostering in Torbay, as well as developing a new foster carer recruitment campaign.

“This included a series of face to face workshops with local foster carers as well as contacting all local foster carers on our database to ask for their views on the proposed fee structure before it went live. The new structure was signed off by councillors in March.

“We would like to stress that all foster carers in Torbay will receive an increase this year. Our new fee structure is also in line with most other local authorities and with government guidance.

“We have an urgent need to recruit foster carers for older children and teenagers, too many of whom have to live away from the Bay because we do not have enough carers locally. Our new fee structure reflects our desire to incentivise foster carers for that age group. However, we emphasise that payments have been increased for all foster carers.

“Our vastly improved offer to local foster carers includes the weekly fee going up to £538 per week depending on the experience of the foster carer, and the age and need of the child they are supporting. We will also be putting in place more training and support for foster carers including access to trauma informed training and specialist therapeutic care.

“We have also introduced a new Resilience Fostering service, a direct alternative placement option for those children who are at risk of being placed in, or are currently in residential care. This comes with an enhanced fee rate of £1000 per week.

“In addition, Foster carers’ allowance is taxable as it is considered an income. However, there are exclusive tax schemes called Qualifying Care Relief in place, meaning our foster carers can receive an amount of their allowance tax free.  As all carers are self-employed, we strongly advise that independent advice is taken in relation to individual tax affairs".

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