How much are the foster care payments?
Foster carer’s allowances are not regulated so each agency can decide how much they pay their carers and the level of allowance for different aged children.
Private (Independent) Fostering Agency allowance
On average, Private (Independent) Fostering Agencies pay a basic weekly fostering allowance and fee of £400 per week, for all ages of foster children.
Local Authority (Council) fostering allowance
Local Authority payments have recommended, national rates for each foster child. Foster carers are paid a weekly fostering allowance to cover the cost of foster care for a child or children.
LA Fostering Allowance for 2014 to 2015:
Babies: £119 – Pre Primary: £122 – Primary: £134 – 11 to 15: £154 – 16 to 17: £179
Babies: £131 – Pre Primary: £135 – Primary: £151 – 11 to 15: £171 – 16 to 17: £201
Babies: £137 – Pre Primary: £140 – Primary: £157 – 11 to 15: £178 – 16 to 17: £209
What do the payments cover?
The payment to carers is provided to cover the following:
General household expenses, food, clothing, mileage, school meals and any other items or outings required to look after a foster child. The payment takes into account the fact that foster care for children cost more than caring for birth children.
The Fostering Network, the UK’s largest fostering charity estimates the following weekly child maintenance costs.
Age Food Clothing Transport Personal Household TOTAL
0-4 £50.86 £36.09 £13.12 £ 14.76 £49.22 £164.05
5-10 £47.57 £42.65 £11.48 £18.05 £44.29 £164.05
11-15 £59.45 £53.30 £22.55 £26.65 £43.05 £205.00
16 plus £63.86 £63.86 £22.10 £51.57 £44.21 £245.60
Most IFAs also pay foster carers payments of up to double their standard fostering allowance, depending on the needs of the foster children, such as :
- Parent and child placements;
- Children with special needs;
- Remand placements.
The additional payments might cover the cost of the child’s clothing, transport and social allowances which ensures the Independent Fostering Agency’s allowance provides a basic minimum fee (or profit element) of about £200 (non taxable) to an average of £250 per child per week. This enables foster carers to become self employed, earn a reasonable living and choose to care for children and young people on a full or part-time basis.
Generally, Local Authorities and Agencies pay their allowances directly into the carer’s bank account every two weeks.
Private fostering allowance
The parent of the child who has made the arrangement with the private foster carer is responsible for any allowance paid to the private foster carer. The foster carer is responsible for receiving all of the welfare benefits they are entitled to; such as Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit and housing benefit.
If the local authority social services assess the child as ‘in need’, they may provide more financial support.
Foster carers in the UK generally do not pay tax on their fostering income up to a maximum of £10,000 per placement, plus allowances. Once you are an approved foster carer and registered with the HMRC as self-employed, you’ll need to keep a record of the ages and dates of when you foster children for the on-line or paper tax return you’ll need to complete each year.
National Insurance contributions
Carers are entitled to Home Responsibility Protection – a way to make sure that you do not get less Basic Retirement Pension, because you decided to look after children at home. As a self-employed person you will need to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions, which are under £3.00 a week.
In receipt of Benefits?
Any payments paid to foster carers for fostering, is generally not included, and does not effect Benefits. However, this will not be the case if you are treated for Tax and National Insurance purposes as though you were self-employed, IF YOU ARE, contact you local Benefits office for advice.
As a foster carer, you will not be able to claim Child Tax Credit or Child Benefit for a child if you are in receipt of a fostering allowance. However you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit if you are receiving the reward element and you are treated as self employed. If you are putting in a claim for this, seek professional advice first.
Foster carers may be in a position to claim any of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-Based Job seeker’s Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
Take the HMRC e-learning course about tax, National Insurance and profit from fostering.
Affording to foster children
Fostering allowance – fee – experience – qualifications
Being a foster carer is no longer seen as volunteering, it is now a professional career. For agencies to encourage people to become foster carers, they need to provide an acceptable level of financial reward, just the same as for any other workers in the social care sector.
“A foster carer will have a massive effect on children’s lives, helping them to improve their self esteem, make better choices and help children to go on to have a safer and happier future, but social services knows that for fostering to continue, carers have to be paid a reasonable fee.
“We at Simply Fostering are focused on finding and encouraging people from all walks of life to become foster carers and for the right person, fostering could be a rewarding new career, funded by an attractive rate of pay.
There is a desperate need for more people to foster and to help with the year on year shortage.”
More information about allowances visit Foster carers allowances and rewards article.
Can fostering children be a full time job?
Yes. It is usually expected that a foster carer will be available full time. Generally, the more available you are, the more foster care placements you will be offered. It is not classified as ‘real’ employment as foster carers are paid a fostering allowance and not a wage.
How to be a foster carer – Agencies
Being a foster carer is one of the most rewarding careers out there, but being with the wrong agency can mean not being offered the number or type of placements you expected, which means not having the fostering allowance and income you need.
The best agencies will:
support you as a foster carer and will make sure you are:
- a valued member of the child’s support team
- clear about what you are expected to do and your responsibilities as a foster carer
- always part of the fostering decisions made for children
- matched as well as possible to the foster children placed with you
- well trained and supported
- confident to say no to a placement
- involved in plans about children’s contact with their family
- able to ask for help
- able to question decisions
- given enough information before a child comes to you
- aware of the child’s needs, behaviours and background when children arrive
- earning a fair and reasonable income as a full time or part time foster carer .
Take the Simply Fostering test now or take the next step towards foster caring and use our free Agency Matching Service to help find the most suitable local agencies with vacancies on our Database, for you and your family.
Contact us and be sure to receive the best training, allowances and support so make an enquiry today!
Income tax exemption
Foster carers are entitled to an income tax exemption up to a certain amount for their fostering.
The amount has two parts:
- A fixed amount to cover capital costs initially set at £10,000 per year
- An additional amount per child, initially set at £200 per week for a child up to the age of 11 years and £250 per week for a child aged 11 years and over.
This government initiative is to make sure carers are not unfairly taxed on the costs they have to meet through fostering.
For more information contact HM Revenue and Customs.
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