The majority of foster carers earn less than the national living wage, a charity has reported.
The Fostering Network polled a representative sample of 1,937 foster carers. No less than 82 per cent of these earned fees from their local authority or pagency for their services but, in 88 per cent of those cases the fees were lower than the national living wage of £7.50 per hour. This is an enhanced version of the national minimum wage (currently £6.70 per hour)
Fifty-two per cent of the foster carers in fact said they earned less than £4 per hour in fees. Nearly a quarter, meanwhile, earned less than £1.70.
The majority of those receiving the lowest fees worked for local authorities.
The Fostering Network called for a substantial bump in foster carer fees. Chief executive Kevin Williams explained:
“It is a matter of social justice that foster carers should be paid. But it’s also a matter of economics – money spent supporting fostering and foster carers now will save society significantly more money in the future.”
“We believe that pay is a key factor in both recruitment and retention. Not only is it an issue for current carers, but – looking to the future – without adequate pay for all, the demographic pool of foster carers will remain limited to those who feel they can afford to foster without fee payments or with minimal fee payments.”
Image by Alex Nguyen via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence