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what are your thoughts on universal credit(5 Posts)
So this replaces working tax credits and income support, which i know a lot of foster carers are on, because lets face it, fostering doesn't pay the bills.
As universal credit is rolled in, if you are a single foster carer you will have to go to a work related interview and regular intervals.
If you foster in a couple and neither of you work other than fostering. The main carer goes to the work related interviews and the other has to actively seek work and attend interviews or your benefits stop.
Or if one of you fosters full time, partner works part time. Partner has to actively look for a full time job and go to an interview for any job the dwp tells you to that offers more hours.
I guess you can tell from my post that im not happy about the new way things will be done and it wont even affect me and my family. Wondered what others are feeling.
Oh and if your partner works full time and you foster full time and there is more than 8 weeks between a placement you have to look for employment and take any interview they offer you or your benefits are also stopped. Harsh times ahead.
Sorry not much time to post at the moment but just wanted to point out that under the current system foster carers claiming income support already DO have to attend 6 monthly interviews, and the entitlement to Income Support stops the MINUTE a placement ends - I've literally had to wave a child off, dry my tears then ring the benefits agency to change my claim from Income Support to Job Seekers Allowance.
I'm not sure that I fully understand the implications of the introduction of Universal Credit fully, but it looks to me as though the Minimum Income Floor could be the biggest problem for foster carers currently claiming tax credits.
I believe that tax credits are based on taxable income, that income from fostering isn't taxable, and that fostering counts as full-time self-employed work. Together those things mean that foster carers are currently able to claim tax credits based on working full-time but earning nothing.
Under Universal Credit, self-employed claimants will be treated as earning at least the minimum wage for the hours that they are expected to work, irrespective of what they actually earn. So if they're expected to work full-time, then they'll be treated as earning at least ~£11.5k/year, even if they earn nothing in addition to their fostering allowance.
This alone would reduce their award by something like £7k/year.
Or is there some special clause relating to foster carers in the legislation that I don't know about?
I may have found a partial answer to my own question. The Briefing Note at www.fostering.net/sites/www.fostering.net/files/resources/further-reading/universal_credit_policy_briefing_note_8_re_foster_carers.pdf says this:
"Under Universal Credit, we do not intend to treat foster carers as either self-employed or remunerative work. These provisions exist in the current system in order to allow foster carers to be entitled to benefits which they would otherwise not qualify for (i.e. Working Tax Credits require a person to be in work). Since Universal Credit is paid on the basis of low income, whether the claimant is in or out of work, it is not necessary to take these rules forward."
In other words, rather than artificially treating foster carers as self-employed in order to crowbar them into the tax credits system, they'll be treated as unemployed but with caring responsibilities that reduce the work search requirements that will be imposed on them (although some conditionality will be applied, as described by the OP). As foster carers won't be treated as self-employed, presumably the Minimum Income Floor won't be applied (unless you do other self-employed work, in which case who knows how it will work).
I agree with the OP: this down-grading of fostering from work (whether self-employed or remunerative) to whatever it will now be seen as (a hobby?) is a bit of a kick in the teeth. At a time when there's a big push to recruit foster carers, and to promote fostering as a career requiring skill and professionalism, it sends out completely the wrong message.
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