Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel Thursday 17 September 2015

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1 Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel Thursday 17 September 2015 Title Individual Savings Accounts - Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel 17/09/15 Report of Linda Burbidge, Finance Manager Wards All Status Public Enclosures None Officer Contact Details Linda Burbidge, Finance Manager, Family Services Summary This paper details a proposal for a savings scheme for children placed within Barnet s internal foster carers. Once implemented the savings will be added, regularly, to the 200 deposited by the government in Junior ISA s, which will be given to all 18 year old care leavers who have been in care for at least 12 months. A number of other local authorities have savings schemes in place for children in care Recommendations 1. That the Committee approve the provision of a saving scheme for children placed within Barnet s internal foster carers. 2. That authority for the implementation of the scheme be delegated to the Director for Family Services in consultation with the Chairman.

2 1. WHY THIS REPORT IS NEEDED 1.1 This paper puts forward a proposal for a saving scheme for children in internal foster care. There is no scheme available at present and practice is not consistent. For many of our children in care, once they turn 18, it can be financially very difficult for them. All children and young people in care should be supported to have an understanding of the importance of savings and to have a short term savings account they make regular contributions to. Children and young people should be encouraged and supported to develop age appropriate money management and financial capability skills to support their transition to independent living and adulthood. The savings given at 18 could go some way to ease their problems. If agreement is given to this scheme, there would need to be communication with foster cares and a robust process put in place to actually administer the scheme. 2. REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS 2.1 In relation to savings, the current fostering allowances guidance states that: All children in care should have a bank or savings account opened for them in their name and foster carers are expected to regularly put money in the child s account, taken from the maintenance allowance of each child placed. Minimum amounts to be saved per week are: 5 for age 0-11 years and 10 for age years. 2.2 The above is only guidance, and the following observations on current practice have been made: It is difficult to monitor which foster carers have opened a savings account and what payments are being made There have been situations where children have been moved and foster carers have given cash to social workers, representing the child s savings. There is no way of checking if the amounts handed over are correct. There have also been situations where children have returned home and their families have used the child s savings.

3 2.3 A saving scheme is proposed for children placed within Barnet s internal foster carers. 2.4 Acting as good Corporate Parents, it is proposed that a scheme be put in place to save 5.00 per week from the child s maintenance allowance, for children age 0-11 and 10 per week for age years, and that this is achieved by deducting the money, at source, from the foster carer s weekly allowance. 2.5 This would be done for all children who have been in care for at least a year and who would be entitled to the government funding and so have a JISA (Junior ISA). The monies would be transferred to the JISA, administered by The Share Foundation, on a quarterly basis and this money would remain, attracting interest each year until the child reaches the age of 18. The Junior ISA is not accessible for spending until the young person reaches their 18th birthday when responsibility for the account transfers to the young person. 2.6 It formed part of the government s broader programme to improve outcomes of children and young people and its welfare agenda of encouraging savings and investment. The JISA provides all eligible children and young people with a financial asset which can have a significant impact on their future opportunities. 3. ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED AND NOT RECOMMENDED 3.1 Do nothing and continue to have no scheme is an option- although this is not recommended due to the reasons outlined in section 2 4. POST DECISION IMPLEMENTATION 4.1 The preferred time of implementation is as soon as it is possible to institute a robust process, but realistically this would not before 1 st November This would enable the go live of Stage 2 of E-Finance to embed, further development of processes to administer the savings scheme, discussion with Foster carers and relevant stakeholders. 5. IMPLICATIONS OF DECISION 5.1 Corporate Priorities and Performance Delivering a savings scheme for children placed within Barnet s internal foster carers will enable children in care to develop financial independence through savings, which contributes to the health and wellbeing priority around keeping independent The scheme will facilitate consistency of practice for all children within fostering placements. 5.2 Resources (Finance & Value for Money, Procurement, Staffing, IT, Property, Sustainability 5.3 Legal and Constitutional References Statutory duties will be met.

4 5.4 Risk Management There are no risks directly associated with this decision. 5.5 Equalities and Diversity The scheme will apply equally to all children in internal foster placements. By having a core scheme, it is expected that this will ensure that all children have savings protected. This scheme would therefore potentially have a positive impact on ensuring equality across young people with protected characteristics. An EIA will be developed for this scheme within the implementation planning stage. The EIA will detail the characteristics of children within internal foster placements and the likely impact. 5.6 Consultation and Engagement The proposal for a savings scheme has been presented to the Family services SMT 24 August The Internal Foster team within Family Services were consulted to understand current practice The Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel are to be consulted on this proposal. 6. BACKGROUND PAPERS 6.1 The decision for a savings scheme was agreed in principle by Family services SMT on 24 August 2015.

5 Family Services Document control Document title Document description Document author Children In Care Savings This paper seeks agreement, in principle, to implement a savings scheme for children placed with internal foster carers Linda Burbidge, Finance Manager Version control Document production date June th September (updated) Document currency Annually Clearance process Quality approver Shirley Green HOS CBI Elaine Tuck Release approver Name of person who approves the document to be added to the Document Bank this should be the Head of Service or above Date 19 th June th September 2015 (updated) Date Date the document has been approved

6 Family Services Document title: Children In Care Savings Scheme SMT Meeting date: 24 August 2015 Author: Linda Burbidge Date Drafted: 17/6/2015 Contributors: Paulette Thompson-Omenka Proposed Children in Care Savings Scheme Summary It is proposed that an agreement for a proposal of a savings scheme for children placed with Barnet s internal foster carers is adopted immediately. Once implemented, the savings will be added regularly to the 200 deposited by the government in Junior ISA s, which will be given to all 18 year old care leavers who have been in care for at least 12 months. A number of other local authorities have savings schemes in place for children in care, and Islington Council, in particular, deducts a flat 5.00 per week from foster carer allowances regardless of age. It is proposed that Barnet also takes this approach. Current Situation The current fostering allowances guidance states: Savings accounts All children in care should have a bank or savings account opened for them in their name and foster carers are expected to regularly put money in the child s account, taken from the maintenance allowance of each child placed. Minimum amounts to be saved per week are: 5 for age 0-11 years and 10 for age years. The above is guidance. The following observations on current practice have been made: It is difficult to monitor which foster carers have opened a savings account and what payments are being made. This is sometimes checked at the Looked After Child Reviews but not in all cases A more robust system is needed to be clear that at the end of a placement in foster carer the amounts available to the child are correct There have also been situations where children have returned home and their families have used the child s savings. Barnet is seeking to protect the childs savings by taking this approach

7 Whilst anecdotal, there is a good practice case of a young person who receives a disability allowance and this is being transferred on a regular basis into her JISA, as agreed with her social worker and Head of Service. Proposal for Savings Scheme Acting as good Corporate Parents, it is proposed that a scheme be put in place to save 5.00 per week from the child s maintenance allowance, for children age 0-11 and 10 per week for age years, and that this is achieved by deducting the money, at source, from the foster carer s weekly allowance. This would be done for all children who have been in care for at least a year and who would be entitled to the government funding and so have a JISA (Junior ISA). The monies would be transferred to the JISA, administered by The Share Foundation, on a quarterly basis and this money would remain, attracting interest each year until the child reaches the age of 18. The Junior ISA is not accessible for spending until the young person reaches their 18th birthday when responsibility for the account transfers to the young person. It formed part of the government s broader programme to improve outcomes of children and young people and its welfare agenda of encouraging savings and investment. The JISA provides all eligible children and young people with a financial asset which can have a significant impact on their future opportunities. Conclusion For many of children in care, once they turn 18, it can be financially very difficult for them. All children and young people in care should be supported to have an understanding of the importance of savings and to have a short term savings account they make regular contributions to. Children and young people should be encouraged and supported to develop age appropriate money management and financial capability skills to support their transition to independent living and adulthood. The savings given at 18 could go some way to ease their problems. If agreement is given to this scheme, there would need to be communication with foster cares and a robust process put in place to actually administer the scheme. The preferred time of implementation is 1 st November 2015 to institute a robust process. This would enable the go live of Stage 2 of E-Finance to embed, further development of processes to administer the savings scheme, further discussion with Foster carers and relevant stakeholders.

8 The fostering service will support carers to understand the changes by recording this in statutory visits from late September to ensure swift implementation by 1 st November 2015.

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