As part of the new welfare reform, the new benefits cap was introduced today across 4 London Boroughs; Bromley, Croydon, Enfield, and Haringey.
The level of the cap will be:
The cap will apply to the total amount that the people in your household get from benefits. This will include, Carer’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance amongst others.
The cap won't apply to you if you work enough hours to be eligible for working tax credit. Some other groups of people also won't be affected – call our helpline to find out more on 0844 800 3880.
The benefit cap will be introduced in all other council areas between 15 July and 30 September 2013.
Last week, we posted an update about the U-turn on bedroom tax for foster carers.
However, the government have since announced that the exemption will only apply to a foster carer’s first “spare” bedroom, meaning that those who have two or more bedrooms for fostering will still be affected.
This could deter foster carers from offering homes to sibling groups, leading to brothers and sisters being split up between different foster families.
A £5m discretionary housing fund has been allocated to help remedy the problem but some foster carers are already reporting problems accessing this support.
The effect of the bedroom tax on the stability of sibling placements could be devastating. That’s why we’ll continue to campaign for all foster carers to be exempt from these unfair housing benefit cuts.
Please join our campaign by sharing your views with us, and we will share them with the Minister.
The Fostering Information Exchange (FIE) has been launched as a group on the Local Government Association Knowledge Hub, following demand for there to be a place where everyone involved in foster care can share practice; explore ideas; discuss issues or new developments and access resources.
FosterTalk would encourage everyone involved in fostering to join FIE Follow this link to access the site, and Have YOUR Say on issues that matter!
The Children and Families Bill would change the law relating to adoption and children looked after by local authorities.
The Children and Families Bill takes forward the Coalition Government’s commitments to improve services for vulnerable children and support strong families. It underpins wider reforms to ensure that all children and young people can succeed, no matter what their background. The Bill will reform the systems for adoption, looked after children, family justice and special educational needs. It will encourage growth in the childcare sector, introduce a new system of shared parental leave and ensure children in England have a strong advocate for their rights.
Key provisions include, but are not limited to:
Part 1 of the Bill contains provisions to give effect to proposals in An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay published by the Department for Education on 14 March 2012 and Further Action on Adoption, published on 24 January 2013. These set out proposals to speed up the adoption process and enable more children to be placed in stable, loving homes with less delay and disruption.
The Bill includes provisions which:
MPs are particularly interested in your comments on the practical implications of specific clauses of the Bill. Please make clear whether your comment relates to a specific clause.
Children and Families Bill team
At the beginning of April 2013, new rules will affect the calculation of Housing Benefit for social housing tenants in England, Wales and Scotland (similar rules in Northern Ireland depend on legislation currently under consideration).
Payments will be reduced by 14 per cent where a house is deemed to be “under-occupied” by one room and 24 per cent if under-occupied by two or more rooms. This may affect foster carers particularly, as fostered children are not counted when considering whether a home is fully occupied or not
Example: A foster carer living in a three-bedroomed house, with no birth children living at home, will see their Housing Benefit cut by 25 per cent, regardless of how many foster children they have.
Local authorities are allocated a budget for Discretionary Housing Payments which they can use to support households which are in difficulties in meeting their rent, but although these budgets have been significantly increased, demand is expected to be extremely high so foster carers need to apply for DHP as soon as their housing benefit is affected.
Pensioners housing benefit claims will not be affected by the new rules.
Children’s Minister Edward Timpson stated in a Parliamentary answer that:
“The discretionary housing payment (DHP) fund, administered by local authorities, will be increased by £5 million a year from April 2013. This will enable authorities to compensate foster carers whose housing benefit is subject to a restriction as a result of the size criteria measure being introduced for working age claimants living in the social rented sector.
The Department for Work and Pension's DHP guidance manual for local authorities is being revised. It will make clear the expectation that this additional funding will be prioritised for foster carers whose housing benefit is reduced as a result of this change because of a bedroom being used by, or kept free for, foster children.
I am meeting the Minister for Welfare Reform early in the new year to discuss what more needs to be done to ensure that local authority chief executives, directors of children's services and local housing authorities are aware that funds are available to assist foster carers, and to encourage them to use this support as effectively as possible to help meet their responsibility as corporate parents to see that vulnerable looked after children have access to loving, stable homes.”
FosterTalk members can seek advice and guidance on this matter by contacting FosterTalk’s member helpline: 0844 800 3880 – option 0
If you are a foster carer and think that this change may adversely affect you then please contact us by the 1st April. FosterTalk will pass all of your responses to the Children’s Minister Edward Timpson who has pledged that he will discuss with the DWP what more can be done to support foster carers on this issue.
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