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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Concerns around pay and rights sees foster carers vote to form first trade union

Written by The Press Association

Foster carers are said to have been offered a "glimmer of hope" after a vote to unionise amid concerns around pay and rights.

A group of foster carers supported a move for the profession to form a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWUGB).

The meeting, attended by around 60 people in Parliament on Monday, has sparked excitement, said union General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee.

He said: "People had a lot of serious and legitimate grievances. However, the overall mood of the meeting was one of excitement because even though there are lots of serious problems that people are facing I think with that meeting there's a glimmer of hope."

Mr Moyer-Lee said he had received around 10 phone calls and emails on Tuesday morning from people enquiring about joining the branch after hearing about the meeting.

Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell (pictured) said he was "very proud" to host the launch.

He said: "Foster caring is an essential role in our society, and these foster carers carry a burden for the rest of our community so they should be properly recognised.

"They have never really been recognised and had legal rights. They should have security of their employment and be properly paid as well, and they should have the support that they need."

Working rights, including paid respite and holidays, employment status and the right to be consulted before a child is moved on were among the issues discussed at the meeting, Mr Moyer-Lee said.

A review into foster care was announced in July by the Department for Education but has yet to begin.

A spokeswoman said: "We really appreciate the work foster carers do, as we know it is a very rewarding - but at times challenging - experience.

"Foster carers receive financial support to cover the full cost of caring for a child and we're launching a fundamental review of fostering across the country, which will look at the issues affecting foster carers, including accountability and complaints."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Philip Toscano / PA Wire.