Ministers have come under fire amid claims that the pledge to “consider” minimum allowances falls short of the situation in England where these are already in place.
SNP ministers have pledged to look into the issue of minimum allowances for more than a decade, but the National Review of Care Allowances published earlier this month has met with an angry reaction from the The Scotland Foster Care Workers’ (SFCW).
Chair Jane Wright said: “As a matter of urgency, children need a National Minimum Allowance so foster and kinship carers can meet their needs.
“The government needs to stop dragging its feet and listen to the overwhelming first-hand accounts that demand immediate action.”
She claims inaction by the group leaves looked-after children in Scotland, whose needs are covered by the allowance, in a more precarious position than their English counterparts. The Department of Education provides councils and fostering agencies south of the Border with recommended minimums that they are expected to respect.
Research carried out by the SFCW, the branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) north of the Border, found a quarter of Scots councils pay rates below the minimums set in England. Highlands pay £77.69 a week in allowances and “expensive” cities such as Edinburgh have rates as low as £102.42 a week. The average Minimum Income Standard for a child looked after by a couple is £161.46 a week, while the average for a lone parent is £219.23, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.
Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said: “Scotland needs more foster families than ever, so this is deeply disappointing. The Scottish Government cannot continue to leave this to local councils who have been hit by SNP cuts to their budgets.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Having received the report earlier this month, we will work with Cosla to fully consider all of the recommendations, including a Scottish Recommended Allowance.”