by Nigel Bakhai on 29 March, 2013
Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg has launched a scathing attack on Labour-run Ealing Council over an adoption leaflet distributed by the council urging families to become foster parents to avoid benefit changes.
The Ealing Council leaflet states: “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 position then you could think about using your spare room to foster.” The leaflet goes to say that the government has provided extra Discretionary Housing Payment funding to help with the housing costs of foster parents which applicants could use to cover the reduction in their benefits.
The issue came to light when it was raised by a concerned caller to the Deputy Prime Minister’s weekly phone-in programme on LBC. Mr Clegg responded by saying that: “I think it is not right for Ealing Council to take what was an exemption that we announced a couple of weeks ago when we said foster families will not be covered by this and then to use that locally to say “Why don’t you turn yourself into a foster family?”.”
On behalf of Ealing Lib Dems, I welcome the news that the council is to withdraw this leaflet, and we are calling on the council to apologise for the wholly inappropriate implication that families could be motivated to foster a child as a means of avoiding reductions in benefits. Fostering should be about giving a loving home to a child in need and Ealing Council were insensitive to suggest that potential applicants could be financially motivated in this way.
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