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Giving up work to foster....benefits

(55 Posts)
ohoneybeeo Sat 18-Apr-15 20:21:04

Hi,
I was wondering if anyone could help me.
I'm currently going through the assessment to become a foster carer, and will be giving up work to do so. I've recently heard that if you give up work voluntarily you can't claim any benefits for 6 months. Does anyone know if this applies to foster carers also?
Thanks for any help.

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sat 18-Apr-15 20:25:07

You can claim Income Support as a foster carer so I don't think they will be interested in why you aren't working. Best to ring up and double check though.

Akire Sat 18-Apr-15 20:28:51

The 6m rule is if you gave up job and wanted to claim Job seekers so would not apply if you have a children uNader 5. I'm not sure of rules around fostering and income support or if you can remain on income support as long as you are working as a foster parent but I'm guessing any adoption allowence would then be deducted.

I also thought you had to be quite well off to foster as you need spare room and give up work so only well off people could do.

ohoneybeeo Sat 18-Apr-15 20:29:37

It's more JSA I'm worried about, as I'm worried I might not get a placement for a while.
I've emailed Welfare Rights, but they haven't got back to me yet.
Thanks x

ohoneybeeo Sat 18-Apr-15 20:31:10

Akire, so I wouldn't be able to claim JSA for the first 6 months or until I got a placement?
I'm really lucky in that I don't have a mortgage and have a spare room. Fostering is something I've wanted to do for a long time, I just hope this isn't going to stop me.
Thanks x

Imnotaslimjim Sat 18-Apr-15 20:37:10

AFAIK, you can only claim JSA if you're available to work and can prove you're looking. In your case I think you'd be better applying for income support. Could you go to the CAB to ask for help on finding out what you can get?

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sat 18-Apr-15 20:39:44

Yes JSA could be stopped for up to six months. JSA is currently £73/week (depending on your income/whether or not you are disabled etc) so you need to know whether you can afford to loose that before you leave work.
For example, some people might need every penny of their JSA to survive, whereas others could carry on fine without it.

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sat 18-Apr-15 20:41:20

Btw, you can't just 'apply' for income support, you need to satisfy a qualifying condition eg in receipt of fostering allowance.

Akire Sat 18-Apr-15 20:41:41

As other posters have said JSA is for job seekers so I'm not sure of rules I'm guessing you will need to be available from a certain date in case a child comes up. Rather than leave job friday start fostering Monday. I'm sure other foster parents would be able o offer more advice. I'm just saying that the benefit system is very complex and sadly just because you will be saving the overall welfare budget in one way does not mean you are likely to get any slack the other end!

ohoneybeeo Sat 18-Apr-15 20:48:32

Yes, I could only claim income support when I had a child in placement.
I can claim JSA when I don't have a child in placement. I'm just concerned about this 6 month rule I've recently heard about.
I have a babysitting job which I get £60 a week from (and will be able to continue that once I foster), but I feel I would still need the JSA too.
I have already been to the CAB and they were useless, he just got out a text book and basically told me I would get fostering allowence...yeah I already knew that lol. X

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sat 18-Apr-15 20:56:03

You know that you will have to declare the £60/week and they will take almost all of that money into account against your JSA? Depending on circumstances they will disregard between £5-20 and then take the rest into account, leaving you with £33 JSA maximum.

ohoneybeeo Sat 18-Apr-15 21:01:25

As far as I know, when fostering you can either claim working tax credits the whole time (when you have a child in placement AND when you don't), OR Income support when you have a placement and JSA when you don't.

I wonder if I might be better just claiming WTC the whole time. It would be a little less money, but at least I'd have something coming in.

Yuleloglatte Sat 18-Apr-15 21:07:20

You can claim working tax credit as a foster carer or income support ( whichever is best for your individual situation). It doesn't matter whether you have a placement. If you go for WTC, you are counted as working full time with zero income. I think your babysitting income would make things more complicated though, as fostering income is ing noted but your babysitting wouldn't be.

It's really not advised to rely on fostering as a main source of income. It can be very unpredictable. If you are working for a LA and take teens you will probably be ok, but if you foster younger children or for an agency you could wait months and have very short placements.

ohoneybeeo Sat 18-Apr-15 21:30:37

Yuleloglatte, thanks!
Could I claim income support when I don't have a placement? Or only WTC?
If I claimed WTC for the first 6 months (as I will probably be exempt from JSA for the first 6 months for leaving my job) could I then change to JSA and income support?
Benefits are a mine field once you start looking into it!

Yuleloglatte Sun 19-Apr-15 08:38:31

I'm not an expert at all, but I know single foster carers who claim income support all the time. However, we work with an LA and aren't usually empty for longer than a couple of weeks.

Most carers I know work on their existing job until they get their first placement. Obviously this depends on being able to give shirt notice/ not taking child in emergency etc. it will probably take longer to get first placement as they will want to give you something straightforward. I know when my friends have been deciding between WTC and Is, the benefits advisers have generally been more helpful than CAB etc. once you are approved you might be able to contact Fostering Network or Fostertalk for advice too.

baby0684 Sun 19-Apr-15 19:34:57

I was wondering this too.
I adopted a little boy nearly 3 years ago now, and would love to foster. But I know with adopting, they went through your finances with a fine tooth comb.
I already have 2 children, and am already on WTC.

So I am trying to get this right in my head, I could claim IS when a child is in placememt, and JSA when I have no child?

ohoneybeeo Sun 19-Apr-15 22:38:52

Baby0684, yes. I've spoken to a single carer from my LA and that's what she does x

Cassimin Mon 20-Apr-15 09:31:52

If you are working you can't claim wtc and income support can you?
Sorry not very up on benefits but it's all changing to universal credit soon anyway.
I rely on partners income to keep afloat but do know there are a few carers in our agency that are single. The only way they can cope financially is with two or more children placed.
From reading on this forum don't know how you could manage on just the allowance from some LAs.

Maytheforcebewithyouall Mon 20-Apr-15 12:11:10

I thought that the children placed with a fostering family were supposed to become as if they were your own family. You love and care for them if they let you like they are your own.
If the foster children are as if they were your own birth children (except pr) then surely it is not a "job of work" to look after them. So you are able to be considered as seeking work surely and up for benefits.
From posts I have read most local authorities do not allow the main carer(usually foster mum) to work at all. Surely as the money that is given to the fostering family is always said to be not enough to even cover their clothes, phone, ipods. hobbies, outings, pocket money, savings etc, why can the foster family main carer not claim JSA. Technically the foster main carer is not allowed to work, but foster caring is said not to be work but you have to be at home whereas you could be out working part time to help family finances like everyone these days needs to! Times have changes since the days of the stay at home mum supported by working dad but social services seems stuck in the past.
Social services can't have it both ways. Either you can go out to work to keep roof over head whilst you foster (and social workers have to help out with child care as I accept that fostered children cannot be babysat by just anyone as they are vulnerable) or you get JSA to stay home and foster, or the fostering money needs to be a working wage.
Simples!
Or am I missing something?
I will not accept the argument that social services take children into foster care without fully acknowledging the financial cost. They are professionals not chancers. It is not acceptable to pass the cost to fostering families and bankrupt them.
We need to sort this out before there are no foster families left.

Candycoco Mon 20-Apr-15 13:05:02

Maytheforce - you ARE absolutely missing something! You are completely minimising the very difficult and challenging task of fostering and parenting these children in a professional capacity, and using phrases such as 'simples' just shows how much you seemed to be bothered by foster carers claiming benefits to supplement their very low fees. If you are part of a family unit you would not satisfy the criteria for JSA or income support if you have a partner that works. Therefore if you are single you have no choice.

It is absolutely nothing like having another one of your own in the house, these vulnerable children cannot just be put in childcare it is not that simple. Many have complex needs and attachment difficulties, so have to adapt to living in a foster placement first and foremost, but to then put them in child care every day whilst you go to work is not a viable option.

Children's services state that a main carer needs to be home based so they can look after the child but also take them to their many appointments, medicals, attend meetings, supervisions and so on. It is not possible for every foster carer to work as well.

I am a single carer and receive income support whilst I have a child in placement. And rightly so. I am not available to work outside of the home whilst fostering young children, and I am doing a valuable JOB.

I suggest you do some research before you make insensitive comments about the WORK foster carers are doing. People who come on this board who know nothing about fostering and start spouting rubbish infuriate me.

OP you can claim income support as soon as you have a child placed with you. JSA claim might well not be successful if you have left your post voluntarily like you say. Are you able to save enough money whilst you are working to pay bills for the first couple of months until you get a placement? I had to do this and it was tricky but I don't know any other way round it.

Maytheforcebewithyouall Mon 20-Apr-15 18:34:31

Candycoco: I think you have misunderstood what I was trying to say or it may be that I was not making my point clearly.
I totally admire and respect foster carers. I see from these posts and threads I have read that they do a difficult job providing a safe family for some of the most vulnerable and damaged children who did not ask to be born into their circumstances. I cannot think of a more worthy group of unsung selfless families who care only for these children's wellbeing.
My point was that I could not believe that families/carers that do this amazing work should scrape every penny together and worry about income and claiming benefits. Surely (I think I will change my name to "surely"! as I say it so often!), fostering money should either be enough or there should be the choice of working for those that want to.
I got a bit on my pedestal so thank you for bringing me down to earth as I am probably far from understanding exactly what it is like to be a foster carer.
That does not stop me admiring you so sorry if I caused offense.
I just do not get why people who do this work are treated so poorly.

Candycoco Tue 21-Apr-15 09:17:55

Maytheforce - I think it was the fact that you although you were saying what a great job foster carers do, but at the same time you were disregarding fostering as a job in it's own right, stating we should just go to work like everyone else.

It's attitudes like that which means unfortunately fostering is unlikely to command a proper wage when it is not given the status or value as a professional role that it deserves.

You are right foster carers shouldn't have to worry about money and benefits, but to jump in and say 'just go to work' when the op was asking very specific questions about the practicalities of leaving her job to pursue fostering and how this would impact her eligibility for benefits is very unhelpful.

You also seem to be unaware that there are a lot of single foster carers out there, who do not have the back up and financial security of having a partner and are working 24/7 in their role as a foster carer. Therefore they rely on some form of benefits to supplement their income. Much in the same way if they were to go to work outside of the home, they'd be receiving in-work benefits to help them just like any other parent.

So it was your contradiction of - you're doing a great job, but you shouldn't be entitled to benefits that caused offence.

BertieBotts Tue 21-Apr-15 09:23:32

But you can't work when you're fostering. It's not like a NT birth child who is settled and can go into childcare and that won't harm them. A foster child has had massive upheaval and needs the security of a full time carer. Even if they attend school, that's only 9-3 termtime and the FC needs to be available in case of any difficulties.

Cassimin Tue 21-Apr-15 13:23:55

I know of carers who do work but it's when placements are long term, their hours are flexible and usually they have partners who are also very flexible.
The first year it so of a placement is full of appointments meeting and contact. If and when it becomes more settled you may be able to look for employment.
I couldn't see how it would be possible to get JSA as you would only be looking for employment between placements. By the time they sorted out your claim you may have to stop it.
Not sure about income support but would imagine this will be harder to get.
You can get WTC and also CTC if you have birth children. But think this is only when you have placement.
Would not rely in any benefits whilst fostering as they could change at any time.

princesspeppa Thu 23-Apr-15 18:49:16

I wanted to foster for many years, but when I rang my LA, I was told that I would need another income, for such times as when you don't have a placement. No placement, no pay. I am a single carer, with no birth children. I had to wait until I had paid my mortgage off, and I now foster, which incidentally, is now sold as a "career" choice by the LA. I have a small private pension coming in, which isn't enough to live on if I have no placement, so I save as much as I can in case I don't have a placement. I am also entitled to WTC whether I have a child in placement or not, as my private pension is low, and the allowance I get from the LA is for the care of the child, and is disregarded for the purpose of calculating WTC. Fostering allowance isn't too bad, even with the LA who pay less, but, you only get paid whilst you have a placement (you still get WTC though), so it is concerning once a placement ends. The JOB is 24/7, there are a lot of meetings, medical appointments, contact sessions with birth family, visits by social workers etc, often at short notice, so fitting a job in as well would be impossible for a single carer. You really need to speak to someone in the benefits office to clarify what you would be entitled to before you make the leap and end up in a possible financial mess.

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