HC Deb 22 November 1977 vol 939 cc1289-90
3. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement about boarding-out allowances for foster children.

Mr. Moyle

When my hon. Friend asked me to publish in theOfficial Report details of the scales of boarding-out allowances paid by each local authority, I explained in my reply to him on 30th November 1976 that the information was not available centrally. He will be pleased to know, however, that I have now decided to publish the scales and have asked my officials to collect the information. I shall write to my hon. Friend when the information is available.

Mr. Bennett

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. We seem to be making some progress. I am sure that when he publishes the local authority scales he will agree that it would be much better to replace the wide variation of local scales with one national scale.

Mr. Moyle

My Department has had discussions with the local authority associations, the latest being on 3rd October. Since then, they have agreed to seek the views of their members on whether they can now begin work on the sort of guidance that might be issued when the present resource constraints improve.

Mrs. Knight

Will the Minister tell the House what discussions he has had with local authorities to encourage them to campaign to get their children who are in care out of local authority homes and into ordinary, normal homes? Is he aware that in Sweden, for example, 80 per cent. of such children are fostered whereas only 40 per cent. to 50 per cent. are fostered here? Will he explain that?

Mr. Moyle

That is a somewhat different question. My Department is continually encouraging local authorities to expand their fostering services.