Foster Carers and Discretionary Housing Payments
Northampton housing campaigner Norman Adams questions if Northampton Borough Council is fully supporting the work of foster carers?
Some research into the use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP’s) Mr Adams finds that with expenditure of over £315,000 only [i]£56.34 is used to support foster carers
Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual states:
Support for approved or prospective foster carers
2.15 Foster Carers are allowed one extra bedroom under the size criteria rules providing they have fostered a child or became an approved foster carer within the last 52 weeks. This also applies to formal Kinship Carers in Scotland.
2.16 Some claimants may be caring for siblings, or for two or more unrelated foster children, and require additional bedrooms. National minimum standards for Fostering Services state that a foster child over the age of 3 should generally have their own room. However, the size criteria rules only allow foster carers (or formal Kinship Carers in Scotland) to have one extra bedroom; therefore a DHP may be awarded to help cover any reduction in housing benefit due the additional rooms that are required.
2.17 People going through the approval process to become foster carers will need to show that they have a spare room to be approved. If a DHP is paid on this basis it would be up to the claimant to inform the LA of any change of circumstances if, for example, they were not subsequently approved.
Objectives for award
4.4 Some authorities have certain objectives in mind when considering whether to make an award of DHP, these are at the discretion of LAs and not mandatory requirements. They include:
- alleviating poverty
- encouraging and sustaining people in employment
- tenancy maintenance and homelessness prevention
- safeguarding residents in their own homes
- helping those who are trying to help themselves
- keeping families together
- supporting domestic violence victims who are trying to move to a place of safety
- supporting the vulnerable or the elderly in the local community
- helping claimants through personal and difficult events
- supporting young people in the transition to adult life, or
- promoting good educational outcomes for children and young people
- supporting the work of foster carers
- supporting disabled people to remain in adapted properties
- supporting care leavers