Nearly half of foster carers in Scotland do not feel that weekly allowances cover the full cost of looking after a child, a new report has revealed.
On Wednesday, The Fostering Network released its annual report into foster care allowances in Scotland and say there is a “postcode lottery” when it comes to allowances.
In a 2021 survey of over 3,000 foster carers, 47% said the weekly allowance does not cover the full cost of looking after a child.
Foster carers also say they have to dip into their own pockets to cover expenses related to looking after children.
Their report found only 11 local authorities in Scotland increased their foster care allowances this year and nearly two-thirds of local authorities in Scotland have frozen their allowances in the past year.
A third of fostering services in Scotland have had the same allowance for seven years and three other local authorities have had the same allowance for the last decade.
The charity has accused the Scottish Government of stalling on a commitment to introduce a national minimum rate for foster carers which has prompted local authorities to freeze rates, pending an announcement.
Jacqueline Cassidy, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, said: “The continuing delay in the introduction of a national minimum allowance has had a direct impact on children in care and the foster carers who look after them.
“We need to help children and young people in care thrive.
“Around half of foster carers in Scotland already stated in our State of the Nation Foster Care 2021 survey, that the allowances they are given do not cover the costs of looking after a child, meaning they must dip into their own pockets to meet the needs of children they are caring for on behalf of the state.
“With inflation rates and the cost of living having significantly increased since then, the situation has only become worse. We are concerned that the cost-of-living crisis will create a crisis for our children and young people.
“Foster carers provide children who can no longer live with their birth families with stability, security and a positive and supportive home environment.
“Ensuring they are supported must be a priority.
“The Scottish Government needs to introduce a national minimum allowance now.
“This is a matter of urgency and can’t be delayed any further.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government values the commitment that foster and kinship carers make to providing loving and caring homes for some of our most vulnerable children and young people.
“We acknowledge that the introduction of a Scottish Recommended Allowance for foster and kinship carers has taken far longer than originally anticipated.
“We share the frustrations of our caregivers and would like to reassure them, and The Fostering Network, that we are committed to delivering the allowances as stated in our Programme for Government and The Promise Implementation Plan.
“Discussions have resumed with Cosla to find a way forward on the introduction of the Scottish Recommended Allowance; they were previously paused due to Covid.”