More money is now available to foster parents and carers in Swindon.

The move by Swindon Borough Council is an attempt to attract more people in the borough to consider fostering the authority’s looked-after children, and the cabinet member in charge says it will bring the allowances paid by Swindon into line with other similar councils.

Councillor Paul Dixon, the cabinet member for children’s services, told the cabinet: “In a recent fostering finance survey in Swindon 81 per cent of the foster carers that answered believe there should be additional incentives for supporting children with more complex needs.”

He said there were fewer foster parents in Swindon than five years ago, and added: “Swindon has a reducing pool of local foster carers in relation to what is needed. In March 2018, there were 305 children living in foster care placements out of 359 looked after children – a rate of 84 per cent.

"By March 2023 the proportion of looked after children living in foster care had reduced to 60 per cent - that’s 205 children living in foster care out of a children looked after population of 338.”

Coun Dixon has had cabinet approval for an increase in the basic foster carer’s allowance to £300 per week per placement with an additional allowance of between £200 and £300 per week per placement, depending upon the complexity of the young person’s needs.

There are additional annual allowances based on notable occasions if applicable, and payments for demonstrating skills as a foster carer, with those at level one receiving £108 per week, level two skills adding £130 per week and those carers at skill level three receiving an extra £185 per week.

Coun Dixon said the extra allowances would come to a total of £572,000 which would be funded from existing budgets and anticipated savings. A budget of £50,000 for training foster carers would also be found from the existing children’s services budget.

He said: “This will bring us more into line with neighbouring councils.”

Wiltshire Council pays a flat rate of a basic allowance of £357 per child placed with foster carers. Other nearby councils pay a lower allowance but also a fostering fee.

One of the reasons Coun Dixon said the council wants to increase the allowances, is to have more children in foster care and less in council-run residential care, which is more expensive.

If the scheme works as anticipated the council hopes to save over £1.5m over the next three years in the costs of residential care or using fostering agencies.