Heartbroken carers now set to resign from profession they love after Calderdale Council rule change. GMB, the trade union for foster carers, has expressed anger after Calderdale Council nodded through changes to foster carers’ terms and conditions last night (Wednesday 30th November 2016).
A protest was held outside Halifax Town Hall prior to the full council meeting to show the strength of feeling among those affected.
Members of the public and local businesses spoke to foster carers and offered their support.
Foster carers from neighbouring local authorities and former foster children also joined the protest.
Carers have been attempting to renegotiate the changes with the council before they were forced through, but the town hall failed to listen to the fears and concerns of foster carers.
Calderdale, once a leading authority for foster carers’ terms, voted to remove the current income security that foster carers have in between child placements and reduce current annual leave entitlement.
Rachel Harrison, GMB Organiser, said:
“Calderdale foster carers left the council meeting devastated by the decision, some feeling that they now have no alternative but to resign from a profession they love out of fear of not being able to pay the bills.
"One foster carer spoke of how hurt she was by comments made by Councillor Megan Swift during the meeting when she said ‘it was not a zero hours’ contract as they [foster carers] were not employees’.
"Calderdale Council has consistently said that the changes are necessary in order to address their failure to recruit new foster carers.
"They are hiding behind what is a national recruitment crisis, one which the Government is trying to address with their on-going inquiry into fostering. The Fostering Network estimates that another 7600 foster carers are needed.
"What Calderdale Council has failed to understand is that forcing through these changes will not address recruitment, it will do the opposite.
"Foster carers who feel respected by the council are the best recruitment tool. It will force existing foster carers to resign or to transfer to independent fostering agencies offering better terms, which in turn costs the authority more money.
"This was recognised by Lib Dem Councillors who spoke in favour of foster carers and asked the council to reconsider, renegotiate and listen to the genuine concerns of foster carers. Councillor Raistrick said that the current document doesn't serve the purpose of the council's intentions and that it was in fact a management issue which needed to be resolved.”
GMB urged the council to reconsider the proposals or at least put them on hold until the Government inquiry into fostering is complete.
The changes will be implemented from 1st January 2017.
GMB has pledged to continue the fight on behalf of members in the fostering service.