HC Deb 11 October 1976 vol 917 cc75-6W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services whether he will give an estimate of the saving to the taxpayer if all children who are now in residential accommodation at an estimated cost of £47 per week per child, excluding the costs of administration, field work and miscellaneous items, were placed with foster parents at their current payment of £7 per week; and what would be the savings if these payments were increased to £20 per week and those foster parents on unemployment and social welfare payments had such payments adjusted for their additional income.

Mr. Moyle

In making arrangements for the accommodation and maintenance of children in their care local authorities have a statutory duty to consider what placement would best meet the needs of each child. Of the children now in residential care some have behavioural difficulties while others have special needs which cannot be met by boarding out with foster parents. Comparisons of the kind my hon. Friend has in mind would, therefore, be misleading in relation to most children in residential care, though if at the current level of boarding-out allowances suitable foster parents could be found for the 5,000 or so children in residential care who, it was estimated in 1973, would be suitable for fostering, the possible savings could be of the order of £10 million a year, against which would have to be set the additional social work costs of effecting the placements. If boarding-out allowances were to be increased to £20 per week to enable those 5,000 children to be placed, there would be no savings because of the offsetting need to pay the higher rate of allowance to all existing foster parents.