Swindon residents who sign up to become foster carers can get cash from the council to adapt or extend their homes to make more room for the youngsters they take in, a new proposal by Swindon Borough Council says.

Members of the Labour cabinet will be asked to approve a scheme whereby up to £200,000 every year might be set aside to use as grants for providing more bedrooms for children in exchange for a solid commitment to being a foster parent in Swindon.

The report to be presented by the cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Paul Dixon says: “The scheme enables foster carers approved by Swindon Borough Council to add an additional bedroom or bedrooms to their property by way of adapting or extending the property.”

Foster carers who live in a council house or flats will be able to have an adaptation or extension made in the normal way a family with care needs can do so now.

The council will borrow to be able to set aside up to £200,000 a year to pay for such adaptations.

But the report says it will save the Swindon taxpayer money in the medium to long-term because it will save on the very high costs of placing children outside the borough or with care companies.

Swindon Advertiser: A file photo of a foster carer and a childA file photo of a foster carer and a child (Image: Getty)

The report says: “Each additional foster home avoids the cost of using an independent fostering agency placement. Recent analysis indicates that the cost of Independent Fostering Agency placements is approximately £1,000 per week and fees and allowances paid to an SBC-approved foster carer are around £600 per week.

“By converting IFA placements to SBC placements this equates to a reduction in costs of approximately £400 per week or £20,800 per year.

“Each application will be considered on its own merits to ensure it provides value for money to the council.”

Getting more foster parents to sign up in Swindon and reduce the number of children placed in homes outside the borough and with private care firms is a major plank of the council’s wish to improve its services to looked after children, both in order to save money and to allow more of the children in its care to stay in the borough close to family, friends and school.

It has recently increased the basic allowance it pays to all foster carers to £300 per week per placement with additional allowance of between £200 and £300 per week per placement, depending upon complexity of the young person’s needs.