Fostering to cover tax is not on, says Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said councils should not be encouraging tenants to take in foster children simply to cover 
the cost of the so-called bedroom tax.

Mr Clegg said he was “not happy” about reports that some councils were suggesting tenants could take advantage of a Government exemption excluding foster carers from new housing benefit rules.

Under the Government plans, social housing tenants deemed to have a spare bedroom stand to have their housing benefit cut from next month.

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A caller to the Deputy Prime Minister’s weekly radio phone-in on LBC 97.3, who gave her name only as Lisa, said she had received a letter from Ealing Council in west London suggesting she could “subsidise” the loss by taking in a foster child.

Mr Clegg said it was wrong for councils to suggest families should take such a drastic step simply to cover a £14-a-week cut in benefit. “I am not happy at all with the idea of councils taking an exemption which we provided as a benefit for foster families and encouraging people to change the way they are as families just to avoid that £14 extra.

“I understand this is a difficult decision. I cannot stress enough – we have provided more money, we have introduced a number of exemptions, we are prepared to do more as the thing comes into effect in order to make sure the hardest cases are properly and sensitively dealt with.”

Ealing Council said foster care applicants would not be approved if their “sole motivation” was financial gain.