Glasgow’s foster carers accuse council officials of breaking budget promises 5

Glasgow’s foster carers accuse council officials of breaking budget promises

A trade union representing foster carers in Glasgow will this week submit a collective complaint to the city council, accusing the body of failing to keep promises voted for in its last budget. 

The Foster Care Workers Branch of the International Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union said most of its members have not received the 10 per cent increase to child allowances announced in February’s budget, and that the council’s request that Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) officially recognise the union has been blocked by unelected officials. 

The letter, seen by The Ferret, claims foster carers are “locked out of every space in which decisions are made” and accuses the HSCP of “taking money away from some of the most vulnerable young people in Glasgow.”

“The actions of a small number of officials…have prohibited the carrying out of the council’s wishes,” the IWGB wrote.

It had called for both trade union recognition and an increase to child allowance in the run-up to February’s budget. Foster carers receive two payments – a fee and an allowance per child – but in Glasgow the former has not increased in 13 years and the latter in nine years. Adjusted for inflation, say the IWGB, this amounts to a 23 per cent cut to the child’s allowance and a 30 per cent pay cut. 

An amendment passed in the budget stated: “Council also values the contribution of Glasgow’s foster and kinship carers and asks the HSCP to increase their allowances by 10 per cent from April 2022, to restore annual inflation-based increases going forwards; and to recognise foster carers’ legal right to trade union representation. Council also asks the HSCP to consider the matter before the end of the current financial year.” 

But IWGB said only carers with children under 10 have received an increase. For most, this was under 10 per cent and therefore not in line with inflation. 

The request for trade union recognition was rejected outright at a meeting of the Health and Social Care Partnership in March, without any negotiation or discussion, said the union.

The formal complaint, addressed to council chief executive Annemarie O’Donnell, demands that the council immediately enter into union recognition negotiations; immediately increase the child’s allowance by 10 per cent; and commit to annual inflation-based increases.

In an accompanying letter, the union writes: “Glasgow’s foster carers currently have no collective representation within the council. We are locked out of every space in which decisions are made about our futures. We are asking for a voice – through our democratic right to trade union recognition – and we are being denied this.”

“The council has also failed to introduce the promised 10 per cent increase in child allowances for all foster and kinship carers,” it continues. “Rather than get even a partial restoration of the 24 per cent real terms cut to child’s allowances, the HSCP has effectively enforced a real-terms pay cut of 11.1 per cent for many of Glasgow’s Foster Carers.”

A council spokeswoman said: “While discussions remain ongoing between Scottish Government and COSLA around a national decision on fostering fees and allowances, Glasgow’s Integration Joint Board agreed in March to an increase to the kinship and foster carer allowances for the 40 per cent of cases in Glasgow where they are currently paid below the proposed national allowance level.

“This agreement was honoured and as a result payment to kinship and foster carers with children aged between 0-10 years has been made. Kinship and foster carers with children aged 0-4 years have had payments increase from £137.18 to £146 per week, and kinship and foster carers with children aged 5-10 years have had payments increase from £156.30 per week to £170 per week. This was released for payment on 17 May 2022 for foster carers and 17 June 2022 for kinship carers and was backdated to 28 March 2022.”

Photo credit: iStock/TomasSereda

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