A CUT to foster carers’ allowances looks set to be finalised by chiefs at Bradford Council next week.

But a union is warning that the move could force carers either out of the job altogether or onto the books of independent foster agencies, which could end up costing the authority far more in the long run.

Foster carers are given allowances to buy clothing, food and other necessities for the young people they look after, on top of the fees for their work.

These allowances look set to be cut to the Government’s minimum rates, under a plan due to be approved by the Council’s Executive on Tuesday.

This would see weekly allowances – currently £127 for the youngest children rising to £220 for the oldest – cut by between £1.50 and £35.

Councillor Val Slater, deputy leader of the Council and the portfolio holder in charge of social care, stressed the authority “highly values our foster carers” and said the changes would be phased in over two years to make the transition easier.

She said many carers looking after two children would still receive more than £30,000 a year in fees and allowances, and that the changes would still leave Bradford paying more in total to its foster carers than other authorities in West Yorkshire.

The change would save the authority £454,000 each year, but Jim Hopkinson, deputy director of children’s social care, said the main driver for the change was a legal consideration.

He said foster carers were paid higher allowances than other carers – such as extended family members who were caring for children under special guardianship arrangements. Case law meant they had to even this out or face potential legal challenges, but raising the lower of the fees would cost the authority an extra £1.6m.

However, a trade union says foster carers in Bradford have been left so unhappy by a succession of changes and cuts, many were now considering leaving the Council.

Tristan Chard, Bradford organiser for GMB, said the cut being proposed was aimed at the children and young people in care, as it was money intended to be spent on their clothes, food and goods.

He said it would hit the carers of older children hardest – and these were the people the Council was keen to recruit more of.

He said the number of foster carers GMB represented in Bradford had rocketed from zero to around 75 in the past few months, because of growing anger at how they were being treated.

Mr Chard said a number of foster carers were now actively looking to transfer to an independent agency, where they would be paid more.

He said: “Who pays for it? The local authority. It’s a nonsense.

“We are saying, ‘Look at addressing the issues in foster care, manage people better, treat them fairly and with respect and people will stay’.

“What they seem to be doing is targeting foster carers, in our view, as a bit of a soft target because they have got no protection.”