The Fostering Network is disappointed, now more detail is emerging, to discover that foster carers living in social housing who foster two or three children will still be penalised under the housing benefit reform from 1 April.
While the last-minute changes in housing benefit reform announced yesterday do address the concerns of many foster carers, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today clarified that the changes will only cover one bedroom used for a child in foster care.
This means that while foster carers who foster one child are exempt from the threatened cut in housing benefit, those who have two or three bedrooms for fostered children are not and will have to apply to the discretionary housing fund for support with their housing costs.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “While we are delighted for the many foster carers who are now exempt from the housing benefit penalty, we are extremely concerned for those who have more than one bedroom for fostered children.
“Forcing foster carers to rely on the discretionary housing fund was always an inherently flawed idea. The Fostering Network identified many examples of bad practice and confusion and reported these to the DWP, persuading them of the need to change policy. Yet by restricting this to those who only foster one child, the Government is leaving many foster carers to struggling to get access to the fund.
“We are very concerned that this will deter people from offering to care for more than one child. Foster care is all about providing stability and security for children, yet this policy risks more children being split up from their brothers and sisters.”
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