Nick Clegg Criticises Council Over Fostering Leaflet

Appears to link fostering to bedroom tax avoidance

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Ealing Council has come under fire after suggesting residents in social housing consider fostering to avoid the so called 'bedroom tax'.

A leaflet has been sent out to residents which says :

''From 1st April 2013, if you rent a council or housing association home and you have one or more spare bedrooms your housing benefit may be reduced. If you are in this postion, then you could think about using your spare room to foster.''

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, criticised Ealing on his LBC radio programme this morning after hearing from a caller concerned about the leaflet.

Mr Clegg said: "I think it is not right for Ealing Council to take what was an exemption that we announced a couple of weeks ago where we said foster families will not be covered by this and then to use that to go around locally and say 'why don't you turn yourself into a foster family?'".

Ealing Conservative Group Leader Councillor David Millican said:

"Its totally wrong to link tenants' ability to increase their housing benefit by fostering a child. Frankly, it demonstrates the incompetence and insensitivity of Ealing Council."

An Ealing Council spokesperson says the leaflet was produced before the most recent changes regarding foster carer exemptions was announced.

She adds:'' We want as many people as possible to consider fostering  and recognise welfare benefit changes may have appeared to be a barrier to some families who could become  potential foster parents.

"Until recently foster families were not exempt from the changes regarding spare bedrooms so we produced a leaflet to explain the position.  There is a significant shortage of foster carers, nationally and locally and we want as many people as possible to think about providing a home to a child who needs a family.

"We have a very rigorous assessment process and if financial gain was the sole motivation the applicant would not be approved."



March 28th 2013