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Council fails to pay proper financial support to foster carers

The Local Government Ombudsman has found that Liverpool City Council has been failing to pay around 340 foster carers the correct amount of allowances for a number of years.

The findings are the result of an investigation that was launched after a woman, who was looking after her nephew after a domestic abuse incident meant he could no longer stay at home, claimed she wasn’t receiving the appropriate amount of financial support from the council.

The subsequent investigation found that foster carers looking after children aged four and under were not receiving the National Minimum Fostering Allowance – an allowance which is set by government each year. The council also wasn’t paying the Special Guardianship Allowance (an additional benefit paid to carers who take on parental responsibility for the children in their care) at the same rate that it paid its own foster carers

Nigel Ellis, Executive Director for Investigations at the LGO, said:

“Many councils struggle to recruit carers to look after children who find themselves – for whatever reason – unable to be looked after by their parents.

“So it is only fair that these people, who do such a good job of giving children the chance of family life, get the benefits and allowances they rightly deserve. These allowances are not ‘pay’ – they are used to clothe and feed the children being looked after.

“I’m pleased to say that Liverpool City Council has quickly accepted it is at fault and has agreed to backdate the benefits to both the complainant and the 340 other carers affected. I hope this swift response will go some way to alleviate the trouble the underpayment may have caused.

”I would urge other local authorities to look at their own procedures to ensure that carers in their areas are not experiencing the same problems that those in Liverpool have encountered.”

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