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SOMERSET COUNTY COUNCIL CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE’S DIRECTORATE FOSTERING ALLOWANCES – 2010/2011 Fostering allowances paid to foster carers of children being looked after by the Children & Young People’s Directorate are reviewed each year. The rates payable from 1st April 2010 are as follows: 1. Basic Allowances Age Weekly Payment Range w.e.f. 01.04.10 £ 0–4 £125.09 5 – 10 £142.49 11 – 15 £177.38 16+ £215.74 These rates are those recommended by the Fostering Network for the year 2010 -2011. (a) Payments are made weekly in arrears. Carers are informed of payment details via BACS advice. (b) All overpayments will be reclaimed. (c) All placements will be paid for the actual duration of stay, regardless of length. What the weekly payment covers: Food Clothing Pocket money Personal and household expenditure Equipment Special outings Dental and optical needs Activities- including clubs and hobbies School activities Telephone expenses These payments are designed to cover the full cost of caring for a foster child. Carers should keep receipts for all clothing, (and provide them to the child’s social 1 worker), and ensure that each child has at least the minimum amount of clothing listed in the foster carers handbook. Where a child is placed in an emergency it is possible for an initial clothing grant to be made to meet the child’s immediate needs. This should be requested via the child’s social worker. Equipment such as cots and sterilisers will be provided by Children’s Social Care but where a child requires a school bag or specific items for a sport or activity this should be met from the weekly allowance unless the cost is exceptional, in which case the child’s social worker should be consulted. Children’s Social Care will consider the request to fund one school trip for children in long term during a child’s time in care. This would usually be as part of their secondary school career, and will need the consent of the Area Manager for the child. If other school trip are requested carers will be assisted to apply to the STAR charity. If the trip is a short field trip costing less than £50 this cost should be met from the weekly allowance which will be paid despite the child being absent from the placement. 2. Child Temporarily Away From Foster Home In all cases where a child is temporarily away from a foster home the payments to be made to the foster carers will be decided by the designated Children’s Services Manager in consultation with the Social Worker, subject to the position being reviewed where the absence is likely to exceed four weeks. 3. Supplementation of Young Persons Aged 16 Years and over in Receipt of Income A young person being looked after and either working, on a training scheme placement, in receipt of job seeker allowance, disability living allowance or any other benefit, is expected to contribute to their care in accordance with their care plan. Please contact the child’s Social Worker for details. PLEASE NOTE: A young person assessed in this way is responsible for all his/ her personal needs, e.g. pocket money, clothing, transport, holidays, leisure etc. Only in exceptional circumstances will the designated Children’s Services Manager direct extra financial assistance. A young person in receipt of supplementation will be paid birthday and Christmas allowances automatically equating to the rate for the age. Holiday allowances will only be paid in exceptional circumstances, and with the prior approval of the designated Children’s Services Manager. The weekly Fostering Allowance paid to carers will be reduced by the amount paid to the carer by the young person. 4. Enhancements and Additional Payments Somerset Children’s Social Care pays Fostering Enhancements where children who have exceptional needs which require their carers to manage these behaviours and achieve positive change. These carers are recognised as having additional skills and the enhancements payment reflects these skills. These payments are made at the following level: 2 Level 1 Enhancement: £30 per week Level 2 Enhancement: £60 per week The child’s social worker makes an application for the enhancement based on agreed criteria and the payments must be approved by both the Designated Children’s Service Manager and the Area Manager. Enhancements are reviewed every 3 months by the Children’s service Manager, in consultation with the child’s social worker and the fostering social worker. Where a child is in receipt of Disability Benefit, these benefits are taken into account when decisions about enhancements are made. Enhancements are only paid for young people aged 16 plus in exceptional circumstances. The second extra payment available is an additional payment and these payments are either a one off payment or an agreed number of sequential payments for the duration of a placement for a specific issue and may relate to a child needing specialised food products, hair or skin products or having additional expenses over and above that of another similar foster child. These payments are discussed and recommended at Pre Placement Planning Meetings and Children Looked After Reviews but require approval by the appropriate budget holder. 5. The Parent and Child scheme Support Placements - The financial reimbursement for carers of these placements will be: - The appropriate age fostering allowance for the child - The 16+ allowance for each parent in placement - A fee element of £100 per week Assessment Placements - Payments for these placements would be as follows: The fostering allowance for the appropriate age of the child An allowance for a 16+ placement for each adult in placement £200 fee per week for the assessment task. Retainers are paid per carer as follows: A foster carer who provides support placements will be paid a retainer of £100 per week between placements for a period of two weeks. A foster carer who provides assessment and support placements will be paid a retainer of £150 per week between placements for a period of two weeks. A scheme bonus payment of £300 for support placements and £450 for assessment & support placements is paid at the end of each financial year, to enable carers to take a holiday. To receive the scheme payment carers will be expected to have provided a minimum of two twelve week placements or the equivalent in placements of a shorter period. 3 6. Home Based Carers Scheme The fee paid to carers under this Scheme is £200 per week with a retainer of £50 per week, or the full fee as retainer if the carer is prepared to accept emergency placements. Payments of the fee and retainer will be based on the actual length of stay. Additional guidance is available regarding fees and payments made to Home Based Carers. 7. Supportive Lodgings Scheme The payment to the provider is £100 per week and the young person contributes £327.50 to the provider from their allowance. There is a possible level 1 enhancement where a young person has significant needs 8 Pocket Money : The weekly payment to carers includes an amount for a young person to have pocket money. It is an expectation that young people in foster care receive pocket money , but understand that the levels paid need to be comparable to not only to what the foster family’s own children receive, but also to what the child’s own family provided, and in line with what the young person can expect when they leave the placement. We therefore make the following suggestions for a minimum allowance per week: Age 0 - 4 £1.05 Age 5 - 7 £1.85 Age 8 – 10 £2.05 Age 11 – 12 £3.00 Age 13 -14 £4.50 Age 15 £6.75 Age 16 - 17 £8.90 Obviously carers can offer additional pocket money as a reward for jobs done around the house or good behaviour. Carers are not allowed to withhold pocket money as a punishment but may decide to place a proportion of a child’s pocket money in a savings account for them instead of giving the money directly to the child or young person. 9. Special Allowances (a) Birthday - allowance to be paid automatically and to be the value of one additional week’s allowance for the age of the child, and to include young persons receiving supplementation (see 3 above). The higher scale allowance where applicable, will be paid for the full week in which the birthday falls. The Birthday and Christmas allowances are to cover 4 all the costs for a child of their own presents, any activities to celebrate the occasion, and the costs of any presents the child wishes to give to friends or relatives. (b) Holiday - allowance to be paid automatically and to be to the following values: Holiday Maximum When Payable Allowance Summer Two weeks See below Christmas One Week 3 weeks before Christmas The two week summer holiday payment will be paid as part of an enhanced basic rate over the six week summer holiday period. Holiday allowances for young people being supplemented will only be paid in exceptional circumstances and with prior approval of the designated Children’s Services Manager. No allowances will be paid to young people who are self supporting. PLEASE NOTE: The automatic allowances paid for Christmas and birthdays, in respect of young people receiving supplementation, will be equivalent to the rate for age allowances which would be payable if they were fostered. 10. Reimbursement of Travelling Costs Mileage should be claimed for the following journeys: a) Contact as stated in the Child’s Care Plan, school, medical appointments or emergencies b) any meetings about the child c) any respite arranged d) agreed clubs and activities for the child. Mileage can also be claimed for travel to training events. All of these should be discussed with you at the Pre- Placement meeting and agreed in principle at that point. Mileage cannot be claimed for other travel, which is part of family life, such as: a) recreational trips to cinema, beach etc b) the travel on holiday. These are assumed to take place and are covered by the fostering allowance or holiday allowance. Mileage for any other journeys not covered in the Pre Placement meeting need to be agreed with the child’s Social Worker prior to the journeys taking place. 5 In very exceptional circumstances, designated Children’s Services Managers have authority to reimburse travelling costs incurred that do not conform to these guidelines. Reimbursement will comprise actual expenditure incurred on public transport, or actual mileage undertaken paid at the current volunteer mileage rate. Mileage and parking should be claimed on the yellow expenses claim form which you can get from your Supervising Social Worker. You will need to attach to the claim form a VAT receipt for fuel covering the period claimed for and any parking tickets you are claiming for. 11. Training Courses A payment of £15 per household per session will be made to assist carers with expenses incurred in attending training courses. Claims will be arranged by the organiser of the training session. 12. CWDC Induction Standards A payment of £50 per carer will be made upon the successful completion of the Induction Standards providing the standards are completed within the timescales set by the Children’s Workforce Development Council. Claims will be arranged by the carer’s local Resource Team. 13. Grants Under Section 24 of the Children Act 1989 and the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Children’s Services Managers may approve financial assistance under Section 24 of The Children Act 1989, to young people looked after by the Local Authority who left care before October 2001, where this is connected with the young person’s further education, employment or training, including towards the cost of accommodation to live near the place where he/she is employed, seeking employment, receiving training or education. As part of the Department’s strategy, grants are available to help young people to set up home independently when leaving care. 14. Grants and Loans The Department has been advised that in normal circumstances it is unable to make a grant, or loan, for items such as home extensions or improvements. Any such needs, to maintain a placement, should be referred to the Head of Children’s Services. 15. Insurance and Legal Cover Insurance The County Council’s insurance provides the following cover for Somerset foster carers:- for any legal liability incurred by the carer as a result of fostering children including injury and property damage up to £3,000,000. 6 for the legal expenses of a foster carer for criminal prosecution up to £100,000 (provided that the carer has operated within the policies and procedures laid down by the Department). for wilful/accidental damage caused by the child, child’s parents or family to foster carers’ property of up to £50,000. for the theft of cash by the child, up to a maximum of £300. In addition there is a personal accident cover in respect to injury caused by the foster child to the foster carer of up to £100,000 capital sums and £200 per week for temporary total disablement. Any claim must be made at the time of the incident or immediately thereafter using the appropriate claim form with authorisation. Your supervising Social Worker will do this. The above cover is subject to the tendering for Insurance Services carried out each year by the Authority. Any excess payments are met by Children’s Social Care. Foster Carers Own Insurance It is a requirement that foster carers will have appropriate building, contents and car insurance. It is our insurers’ view that there should be no extra premium payable by individuals on either household or vehicle insurance as a result of being a foster carer. Carers should notify their insurance company if they use their vehicle to transport children in their care but this should not affect their policy or costs. If there are difficulties the Risk and Insurance Manager would be willing to talk to the insurance company directly as well as offer advice to the carer concerned. In addition we have been advised that overloading cars – carrying more children than there are seats or seat belts – is illegal as well as rendering the authority liable to an action in the event of a young person being injured in an accident. The practical consequences of this will obviously have to be followed up with foster carers by supervising social workers. Car seats and restraints, which comply with current legislation, must be used where carers are transporting children in care. Foster carers also have access to an Assisted Car Purchase Scheme, subject to certain criteria. Further details can be obtained from Resource Teams at the local offices. Carers who offer Parent and Child scheme placements are advised to seek individual advice from their insurance company. 7 16. Inland Revenue Tax relief is available for foster carers. The relief consists of two elements: foster carers whose gross receipts from foster care do not exceed an individual limit in a year will be exempt from tax on their income from foster care; and foster carers whose gross receipts from foster care exceed the individual limit, will be able to choose an optional, simplified, method of calculating their profits instead of using the normal rules. Current Law and Proposed Revisions Foster carers are normally taxed on any profit they make under Case I, II or VI of Schedule D. Under a longstanding administrative arrangement, foster carers are normally treated by the Inland Revenue as having a profit only if they receive payments which their local authority identifies as “reward”. Under the new relief, any such foster carer receiving gross receipts from foster care in a year under an individual limit will be exempt. “Exempt” means that the individual will be treated as having a profit or loss from foster care of “nil”. The exemption will apply solely to income obtained from the provision of foster care. It will not affect the tax treatment of income received from other sources. Foster carers whose gross receipts in a year from the provision of foster care exceeds their individual limit will be able to choose between: commuting their business profits using the normal rules; or treating as their profit the amount by which their gross receipts from foster care exceed their individual limit. The individual limit will be made up of two elements: a fixed amount per residence of £10,000 for a full year; and an additional amount per child for each week, or part week, that the individual provides foster care. The amounts will be £200 a week for a child aged under eleven and £250 a week for a child aged eleven or older. There is a basic introduction to foster care relief document prepared by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in August 2008 available on the HMRC website . We include below some Parent and Child scheme examples relating to taxation. Please note this advice has been compiled from HRMC advice and a book produced by the BAAF and therefore is advisory only based on their interpretation of taxation rules. Carers are therefore reminded to seek their own advice on their own individual circumstances from the tax office or an independent financial advisor. 8 A and B below give examples of the position of assessment and support placement carers over one financial year: A: Mary has provided 3 assessment placements; all 3 placements have been one parent and a child under 4 and lasted 12 weeks. Somerset County Council paid Mary: 36 weeks x £200 fee £7,200 36 weeks x £125.09 (0-4 allowance) £4,503.24 36 weeks x £251.74 (16+ allowance) £7766.64 16 weeks x £150.00 retainer £2,400 Annual scheme payment £450 Total £22319.88 Mary is allowed the following tax relief: Fixed tax exemption amount £10,000 Foster carers tax relief for child 36 x £200 £7,200 Foster carers tax relief for parent 36 x £250 £9,000 Total £26200.00 Mary should not be liable for income tax. B: June has provided 2 support placements; 2 placements were one parent and a child under 4; 1 placement was one parent and two children under 4. All 3 placements lasted 12 weeks. Somerset County Council paid June: 36 weeks x £100 fee £3,600 24 weeks x £125.09 (0-4 allowance) £3002.16 12 weeks x £250.18 (0-4 allowance x2) £3002.16 36 weeks x £251.74 (16+ allowance) £7766.64 16 weeks x £100.00 retainer £1600.00 Annual scheme payment £300 Total £19270.95 June is allowed the following tax relief: Fixed tax exemption amount £10,000 Foster carers tax relief for child 24 x £200 £4,800 Foster carers tax relief for 2 children 12 x £400 £4,800 Foster carers tax relief for parent 36 x £250 £9000 Total £28600.00 June should not be liable for income tax. 14. Benefits for families in parent and child placements. Parents may be able to claim certain benefits whilst in placement. The Parent and Child scheme can offer some advice in relation to this. 9 15. Payment, Administration and Queries Payments are now made by BACS (Bank Automatic Clearing System). Payments are administered in Taunton. A remittance advice slip will be sent with each payment. If you have any questions or complaints please contact:- (i) Queries on payments received should be directed to Taunton Admin Team Children & Young People’s Directorate Taunton Admin Team Children’s Social Care C Block County Hall TAUNTON TA1 4DY The main contact is: Sarah Pitman Tel: (01823) 357876 Fax: (01823) 357900 (ii) Queries on levels of and entitlement to payments, general questions: Please contact the Resource Team at your local Children’s Social Care Office. 10
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