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Call for ban on fostering 'golden hellos'

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Council leaders are today calling for a ban on independent agencies using so-called “golden hellos” to entice carers away from local authorities, amid ongoing concerns over the involvement of private agencies in the provision of foster care.

LGC reported last month on how private agencies offer large cash incentives to foster carers to join, before passing the costs onto local authorities by charging significantly more to buy back fostering services.

Today the Local Government Association is calling for a ban on the practice, also highlighting its concerns over the amount of profit such private agencies continue to generate.

Richard Watts (Lab) chair of the LGA’s children and young people board said: “Offering ‘golden hellos’ to entice foster carers away from councils does nothing to increase the number of carers available in our increasingly over-stretched system, and nothing to improve the lives of children and young people who need our help the most.

“It also too often forces councils to pay higher fees for fostering services, which only serves to cut the amount of money available to help all children.”

A recent report on children’s residential care by Sir Martin Narey found that eight commercial agencies recorded combined profits of £41m in 2014-15, something that Cllr Watts branded “completely unacceptable” at a time when many local authorities are “at the very limit of their in-house fostering provision.”

“It is essential that steps are taken to make sure the whole system is working well together so that councils can make full use of the range of placements available, looking after the best interests of children rather than the commercial interests of a small number of agencies,” he said.

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