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Glasgow foster carers “betrayed” as unelected officers undemocratically refuse Council’s pay proposals

Tue, Apr 19, 2022, 9:10 AM
  • Glasgow foster carers are calling the Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) deeply undemocratic after unelected council officers have refused to implement the council’s recommendation of 10% increase to the foster carer child allowances in February’s budget amidst the cost of living crisis.
  • The HSCP has also overturned the council’s decision to initiate the UK’s first trade union recognition agreement between a council and foster carers - which would provide foster carers in Glasgow a voice they are currently denied.
  • Foster carers part of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) launched a campaign in December demanding an end to the 10-year freeze on child allowances (a 24% real-terms cut), and trade union recognition.

Tuesday 19 April: Foster carers are calling Glasgow HSCP’s decision to overturn Glasgow City Council’s recommendation of 10% child allowance increase amidst the cost of living crisis a deeply undemocratic betrayal. Unelected officers responsible for the delivery of social care services across the city have also denied foster carers a union recognition deal recommended by the full council voted through in the February budget.

In advance of the budget announcements, foster carers launched the ‘Fairness for Foster Care’ campaign in December demanding an end to the 10-year freeze on child allowances, equating to a 24% real-terms cut. The campaign received support from the Scottish Greens, Labour, the Conservatives, and a number of independents. The SNP have so far refused to support Glasgow’s foster carers.

Following a demonstration in George Square joined by Cllrs Matt Kerr and Russell Robertson - an amendment brought by the Scottish Greens and passed by Glasgow City Council recommended a 10% increase to child allowances in February’s budget, with a commitment to increase this yearly with inflation. The council also proposed a union recognition deal.

Instead, the HSCP has implemented a 6% increase for carers with children aged 0-4, and an 8% increase for carers with children aged 5-10, which in total represents only 40% of foster carers across Glasgow. The HSCP has also denied foster carers a collective voice and a seat at the table by dismissing the union recognition deal.

In addition to the child allowance freeze, foster carers’ pay has been frozen for 12 years, representing a real-terms 30% pay cut. Recent figures show 60% of Scotland’s foster carers cannot cover the full cost of raising a child with the child allowance. With the rising cost of living, this figure is set to increase. Unable to provide the level of care the children need, many foster carers are forced to leave the system for private agencies. A recent freedom of information request revealed that privatisation was costing Glasgow City Council 2.4x the money per child.

In advance of the local elections, the IWGB is organising a hustings on the future of Glasgow’s foster care system on the 20th April at Govanhill Parish Church.

Jane Wright, Foster carer, says: “Like many foster carers across our city, I'm facing the 11th year in which I have seen the child allowance pay frozen. At a time when the cost of living is dramatically rising, the child allowance no longer covers the essentials. Care experienced young people aren't asking for extras. They just want to have the same life chances as their peers but this pay freeze is preventing that. Almost every employee in the country will have at least a small rise this year but teenagers in the care of Glasgow City Council are being denied any sort of an increase and the system continues to rely on the financial sacrifices of their carers. It is not fair to expect the love and goodwill of kinship and foster carers to fund the basics when we are already struggling financially ourselves.”

Kenny Millard, Chair of the Foster Care Worker Branch (IWGB), says: “It is totally unacceptable that unelected officers in the HSCP have decided to stand in the way of Glasgow’s democratic process. The 10% increase to child allowances voted on by our elected representatives will make a huge difference to the lives of our foster carers and the vulnerable children in their care who have seen incomes frozen for a decade. Because of the HSCP’s deeply undemocratic decision, hundreds of foster carers across our city are facing another year of real-terms cuts to their income at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing. This will mean more carers leaving the system for expensive private agencies that cost the council over twice as much. The HSCP must stop ignoring its hardworking foster carers and give them the 10% allowance increase and union recognition they so desperately need and deserve.”

Alex Marshall, President (IWGB), says: “This is nothing less than a betrayal of Glasgow’s foster carers and the vulnerable children in their care. The fact that unelected officers in the council can outright refuse to implement democratic decisions is a threat to democracy in Glasgow. Unelected officers in the council pose a threat to Glasgow’s entire democracy. We call on elected councillors to use the powers they have been granted to get these rogue officers under control and implement the decisions made by the full council. Councillors of all parties should rail against this injustice, or they will find they will be voted out come May.”

Interviews with foster carers are available upon request.

For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Head of Communications
press@iwgb.co.uk

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