Glasgow foster carers protest to demand emergency measures from council to tackle cost of living crisis

Tue, Sep 27, 2022, 8:15 AM

Tuesday 27 September: Glasgow foster care workers from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will demonstrate in George Square tomorrow at midday, demanding emergency measures from the council to tackle the cost of living crisis. The majority of foster carers across Glasgow are facing a 28% real-terms cut to their child allowance incomes after the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board refused to implement a 10% increase voted through by the council in February’s budget.

Carers submitted an official complaint to the council this July, after unelected staff in the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board (GCIJB) decided to implement smaller increases of between 6 and 8 percent for a minority of foster carers and kinship carers in the city (40%). February’s budget recommendations, which also include a commitment to increase allowances annually with inflation and to begin the process of a landmark union recognition deal, followed the launch of a campaign against a decade-long allowance freeze by foster carers from the IWGB back in December 2021.

Glasgow’s foster care system is in crisis. Recent figures show 60% of Scotland’s foster carers cannot cover the full cost of raising a child with the allowance. Unable to provide the level of care children need, many foster carers are forced to leave the system for private agencies. A freedom of information request earlier in the year revealed that privatisation was costing Glasgow City Council 2.4x the money per child.

Other local authorities in Scotland have increased their child allowances recently to tackle the foster care crisis. With inflation set to rise as high as 14% in October for the UK’s poorest households, the majority of carers in Glasgow face a difficult winter ahead after another year of real-terms cuts to their incomes.

Foster carers are demanding emergency measures to tackle the cost of living crisis. These include:

  • The 10% child allowance increase voted through in February’s budget.
  • An increase in the foster carer fees, which haven’t changed since 2009, and an increase in fuel allowances.
  • Free school meals for foster children, council tax exemptions, and other support currently available for people on universal credit.

Elaine Watson, Foster Carer, says: "All year, everything has been going up. My food bill is skyrocketing and my heating bills are three times higher than this time last year. But my income hasn’t changed in nearly a decade. We are professionals who work hard to give the children in our care the best start in life. After working tirelessly through the pandemic with little support, we feel undervalued and we are denied a real voice in the decision-making processes that impact us and the children in our care. After making commitments to end the freeze on our child allowances, the council has failed to deliver increases for most foster carers and it has denied us a seat at the table. If Glasgow City Council does not take urgent measures to tackle the cost of living crisis, we will continue to see experienced carers forced out of the profession."

Alex Marshall, President (IWGB), says: “Glasgow’s foster care system is in crisis. Most carers in the city haven’t seen their income change in over a decade. This amounts to a 28% real-terms pay cut. At a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing, Glasgow’s most vulnerable children are facing cuts. February’s budget recommendations showed that the council recognised the urgent need to tackle the crisis by increasing the child allowances. But unelected staff in the Integration Joint Board have chosen to deny these children the money they desperately need. All the while, millions of pounds continue to be wasted on private foster care agencies. Many foster carers will not last another year of this drastic underfunding, and if the council does not take urgent action to tackle the cost of living crisis, experienced carers will be forced to move to expensive private providers, costing the council even more money.

Interviews with foster carers are available upon request.

For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Head of Communications

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