SENIOR councillors will be asked to re-examine how plans to cut foster carers' fees will impact those who provide short-term placements.
Last night members of a Bradford Council scrutiny committee voted to ask the authority's Executive committee to reconsider its position over cutting retainer fees for foster carers.
Scrutiny committee members, who met at City Hall, were particularly worried about the financial uncertainty caused to those who provide short-term foster care who could lose hundreds of pounds a month in fees which they receive between placements.
Some foster carers have told the Council that they may be unable to pay household bills if retainer fees are taken away.
The proposed changes would see foster carers with vacant places no longer paid retainer fees indefinitely. Instead, the payments would halve after six weeks and stop after 12.
With cuts to transport and holiday allowances, the authority hopes to save £557,000 a year overall.
In February, the council was paying £12,000 per week to foster carers with vacant placements. Since then the figure has dropped to just over £8,000 a week and is set to fall further.
The controversial cuts have been put on hold after the Council's opposition Conservatives 'called in' an earlier decision by the executive committee.
Last night the authority's Children's Services scrutiny committee looked in detail at the proposals during a three-hour debate.
The meeting heard from a short-term foster carer, Eve, who said the cuts would put short-term carers under "enormous pressure" financially.
She suggested that the council had failed to listen to the concerns of foster carers who were unable to offer longer term placements.
Councillor Dale Smith (Con, Wharfedale), who asked for the decision to be called-in, claimed that foster carers had not been properly consulted.
The panel was told by officers that there was enough work for all of Bradford's foster carers but only if they were willing to retrain and take on all ages of children and not just those from birth to aged four.
Councillors voted to pass three recommendations to the Labour executive committee.
They want the council's Fostering Service to keep carers informed and involved as the service becomes more flexible.
The scrutiny committee wants to see a greater role for the Bradford Association of Foster Carers and Adopters so its members are kept up to date about the service review.
The committee also wants to see a further report in October so they can monitor and scrutinise the changes to carers' fees.
Councillor Michael Pollard (Con, Baildon), deputy chairman of the scrutiny committee, said he believed that some form of "emergency capacity" was needed to ensure there were enough carers to cope with small children and babies at short notice.
Councillors said they wanted to ensure foster carers felt valued and avoid them leaving the service.
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