Maria Eagle said:
- including financial support - is an important priority for this Government.
'We recognise the real progress that local authorities and independent fostering agencies have made in improving fostering allowances in recent years. However there is still significant variation across the country, with pockets of low payments that cannot be explained simply by regional differences in the cost of living. The national minimum allowance will lead to fairer payments for foster carers and more clarity about their entitlements, regardless of where they live.'
Robert Tapsfield, Chief Executive of the Fostering Network, said:
'This is a very important issue. We will be encouraging as many foster carers, fostering services and young people as possible to respond to the consultation, to ensure that carers are not out of pocket as a result of fostering.'
British Association for Adoption and Fostering Chief Executive Felicity Collier said: 'BAAF campaigned long and hard for a national minimum allowance for foster carers. This consultation is a vital opportunity for those affected to have their say on how the allowance should be calculated. We urge foster carers, their families and friends, service providers, social workers, managers and young people in foster care to respond to the consultation.'
1. The consultation will run for 12 weeks. The consultation document can be found at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk. Responses may be sent to the DfES Consultation Unit or made online on www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations.
2. The National Minimum Allowance is based on thorough consideration of the research available into the cost of caring for a child and on the additional costs associated specifically with fostering children.
Based on the methodology proposed in the consultation, the national minimum weekly allowance for this year would be£99.56 for babies;
£107.61 for pre-school children;£103.34 for primary age children and
£112.89 for secondary age children.
3. The National Minimum Allowance rate(s) will be issued in July 2006, alongside good practice guidance on payment systems.