Sunbeam offers up to £650 fostering allowance per child per week depending on children’s needs. Additionally, we pay other allowances and our foster carers receive many other benefits while fostering with us.
Understand the detailed breakdown of Fostering allowance
As a foster carer you will receive fostering allowance which normally covers things like food, clothing, transportation, pocket money, outings and personal household expenses etc. Sunbeam offers up to £650 fostering allowance per child per week depending on children’s needs. Additionally, we give generous bonuses and foster carers receive other benefits while fostering with us.
Receiving Fostering Allowance
So you are considering becoming a foster parent but are wondering how you are going to afford it and what will be paid to you as fostering allowances as it can be an expensive job. No need to worry, there is plenty of help available to foster parents to help cover the costs of fostering children and as a reward element, a weekly fostering allowance is paid to foster carers which of course depends on children’s needs.
Once thought of as a voluntary occupation, providing foster care is now considered to be a professional career and it is generally accepted that fostering is a full-time occupation. As with any recognised profession, foster carer’s allowance and fostering fees for approved foster carers with Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs) are now quite competitive.
Caring for children in your home, you will incur not only the basic costs of food, clothes, toys and utilities. There are trips out, pocket money and a whole host of other expenses that pop up where children are concerned. The fostering allowance is not only there to help you cover these expenses but also to compensate you in the process.
Type and amount of fostering allowance
The type and amount of fostering allowance that you receive will depend on the type of foster care that you provide as well as who you work for:
Local Authority Foster Care
If you are fostering children via your local authority you will be paid the foster carer’s allowance according to the criteria they set. Foster carer’s allowance varies in each local authority but the rate set by the government starts at £123 per week for babies, right up to £216 per week for 16-17 year olds with an enhancement for London and the South East of England. These are the standard recommended rates and depending on the circumstances, you are likely to receive higher foster carer’s allowance than this.
Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA’s)
Independent fostering agencies pay fostering allowances in a slightly different way; foster parent working with an independent agency will receive a fostering fee of up to £650 per child per week although this will vary according to the needs of the child that is placed, for example:
- Parent and Baby
- Remand Fostering
- Children with complex needs
Where a private arrangement has been made between a parent and a foster parent, the responsibility for any foster fee or allowance falls to the parent. In this circumstance the foster carer is responsible for claiming the correct benefits for the child like tax credits and housing benefit. There is no state remuneration or fostering allowance payable in this case.
Tax records and relief
Working as a Foster Carer & having Fostering Payments means you are classed as self-employed
Foster carers are classed as self-employed, this means that you will receive all the payments with no deductions for national insurance or tax. You, however, will need to register as self-employed with the HMRC and complete a tax return each year. To find out more about self-assessment, please go to HMRC website or click this link – https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns.
There is tax relief on fostering allowance available to foster parents and foster carers. Not only is there a £10,000 tax exemption on fostering allowance but there is also a weekly tax relief available of up to £250 per week for every week that you are caring for a foster child in your home and, in turn, claiming the fostering allowance or fostering fee. For more details, please visit this link – https://www.gov.uk/foster-carers/help-with-the-cost-of-fostering
The tax relief on fostering allowance is because the government wants to make sure that foster parents are treated fairly by the tax system and takes into account the expenses that you have to cover as a foster parent.
It is important that you keep records of the weeks when you are caring for children and when you have no foster children at your home so that you are able to claim these reliefs when it comes to tax and self-assessment. Being sure to record all fostering allowance payments, fostering fee’s received and tracking your expenses. This will make completing your tax return much easier at the end of the financial year.
Fostering fees and allowances are not counted as income in respect of most means-tested benefits.
If you are eligible for working age benefits, they will not be affected by your fostering allowance. The benefits include the following:
- Income Support
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Council Tax Reduction
- Disability Living Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
Although fostering allowance is not counted as income for benefits, you should make sure that you declare this income when you apply for any benefit.
Council tax reduction
Alongside the fostering allowance you may be able to have your council tax bill lowered by up to 100%. This, of course, depends on your circumstances and how many people live in your household. Each local council sets its own rules and eligibility criteria for the council tax reduction scheme and you would need to speak to your local council in order to find out if you qualify for this.
Housing Benefit Help
Contact your local council to find out about claiming housing benefit for children that you are caring for in your home. This can help to contribute towards your rent (not available if you own a property either living in or renting it out). You can also claim for a period of up to 52 weeks for a bedroom that is reserved for a foster child but is currently unoccupied.
There are many solutions that can help you make the most of life as a foster parent and the financial incentives available make the process a bit easier. Not having to worry about where money is coming from means that you can get on with what you do best, which is caring for the children that you have fostered. Money isn’t the only thing that a foster parent needs but fostering allowance, which has the reward element to it, helps you to ensure that the home environment is as comfortable as it can be for you as well as for the children. All of the above is there to help and assist you in creating a stable and secure environment. Be sure to take advantage of all the help offered.
- When a child is placed in care, the LA is their corporate parent. Historically, Local Authorities have been responsible for providing fostering services through foster carers they have recruited.
- Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA) came into existence to support Local Authorities services and provide greater choice for the child being placed.
- In 2002, Fostering Guidelines and Regulations were introduced for IFAs to adhere to and the private sector provision has now increased to 30% of all foster care placements. The Local Authority provision remains far higher than IFAs but the Government is committed to expanding choice and supporting private sector growth.
- The market for IFAs includes a few larger national players, several regional operators and small businesses. The majority of IFA’s are companies.
- When selecting an IFA to foster with, it is important that potential carers consider many areas but in particular the support they receive, allowances payable and whether they will receive placement of a child.
What to look for in an IFA/how to select an agency?
To select an agency with whom you would like to be a foster carer, look out for,
⇒ Their Ofsted inspection reports
⇒ See if they provide local support
⇒ See if they provide 24/7 support
⇒ See if they provide free training
⇒ And finally, don’t forget the fostering allowance
*Sunbeam Fostering Agency has started an “Enhanced Fostering Service” where foster carers will receive up to £650 per child per week in fostering allowances. Please look out for more information on this. If you would like to be part of the enhanced fostering service please register your interest now and we will contact you.
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FAQs – Fostering Allowance in the UK
How much do you get for fostering in the UK? or How much is the fostering allowance?
Sunbeam pays up to £650 per child per week in fostering allowance depending on children needs. For example for children with disabilities and enhanced needs, the allowances will be higher.
Is foster care payments considered income?
Foster care payments consist of two types of payments (fostering allowance and the reward element). Fostering allowance is not an income but to cover the cost of caring for the child. The reward element (paid extra – normally agencies combine the two and pay foster carers altogether) is considered an income. There is a minimum national fostering allowance per week and the reward element can be different agency to agency). Foster carers need to register as self-employed with HMRC for Class 2 national insurance and complete a tax return. For more information, please visit https://sunbeamfostering.com/contact-us-sunbeam-fostering-agency/
Can you work when you foster?
Depending on the fostering service you foster with and the children’s needs you may be able to work part-time or even full time. For example, if you are fostering children of school age, you will need to drop and pick them to and from School and this will have an impact on your work. Agencies have their own policies regarding work and it’s better to discuss this with them at the beginning of your fostering application.
Can foster carers claim benefits?
Fostering allowance is not deemed as an income but you should make sure you declare it when applying for any benefits.
How long does it take to become a foster parent?
There are a number of things involved in the process. For example, local authority check, police check, and medical checks etc. Normally this can take from 3-6 months depending on how quickly we receive these checks and other related actions to become a foster parent.
Do you still get paid after you adopt a foster child?
No, after adopting a child the fostering allowance and the rewards element will no longer be paid as the child is now part of the family. You may be entitled to child benefits depending on your personal and financial circumstances. Please check with HMRC for further information.
Can you pick the age of a foster child?
Ideally, foster carers need to be open to foster any child from the age of 0-18. However, there may be certain circumstances where you will not be able to accommodate a child from a certain age. If this is the case, you need to make it clear to the fostering service at the very beginning of your fostering application.
What is the age limit for foster care?
There is no legal age limit but as there is a lot of responsibility involved while fostering children. This includes preparing meals, school drop-offs/pickups, meeting with professionals, confidentialities and keeping records etc so we think, a foster carer should be ideally 21 and above.
Can you be a foster parent if you are convicted felon?
This depends on the individual case, and it should be discussed from the very beginning of your fostering application with your fostering service provider.
What does it mean to foster a child?
There are a number of reasons for children coming to care including neglect, abuse, family emergency, family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence etc. Fostering provide them with a safe place, a family home and the opportunity for them to develop and nourish for a better future.
Words From Foster Carers