THERE were cries of “shame” from foster carers as Council bosses voted to go ahead with controversial cuts to their allowances.

Dozens of angry carers were among the members of the public who packed into the Council chamber at City Hall for a fraught Executive meeting, where proposals to close swimming pools and a care home for people with dementia were also being discussed.

The meeting heard the plan was to cut foster carers’ allowances - cash meant to help pay for the child’s food, clothes and other necessities - to the Government minimum.

Jim Hopkinson, deputy director of children’s social care, said while this would save money, the main aim was to make the allowances equal to those paid to other types of carers, such as relatives caring for children under special guardianship orders.

He said this was deemed to be necessary for legal reasons, but added that the package of fees and allowances paid to foster carers was still higher in Bradford than in other authorities in West Yorkshire.

But one foster carer, Jane Collins, claimed this was inaccurate.

She said: “We are not here to change your minds, we have watched you rubber-stamping everything this morning.”

But she warned the Executive that they would only drive foster carers onto the books of independent agencies, which would end up costing the authority “several million pounds more”.

Another foster carer, Steven Routledge, said: “It’s a terrible thing to do, to be quite frank. Anybody who’s taking money away directly from children should have shame.”

Deputy Council leader, Councillor Val Slater, said: “This is another very difficult decision we are going to have to take and it is not necessarily one we enter with any real enthusiasm.

“I want to reiterate - and this is not just paying lip service to it - how much we appreciate the work, commitment and love that the foster carers bring to these children.”

Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, added: “If we do not have a level playing field between these two groups, then we are open to legal challenge.”

The Executive voted unanimously to go ahead with the plans.

Afterwards, the union GMB, which represents many of the carers, accused Council bosses of showing “disdain towards foster carers”.

Peter Davies, its senior organiser for West Yorkshire, said the plan could well prove to be a false economy.

He said: “It is going to push foster carers into these agencies. I would like to know whose head at the Council is going to roll in a few years if the costs have gone up.”

He also challenged the authority to “publish your legal advice”, so the union could take its own legal advice.