FOSTER carers in East Lothian will see their payments nearly double from next month as the local authority bids to become more competitive.

East Lothian Council’s Labour administration cabinet approved plans to increase the weekly payment for carers, after seeing some people taking children from neighbouring authorities that paid more.

A meeting of cabinet on Tuesday was told by Lindsey Byrne, the council's head of children’s services, that the local authority paid carers less than neighbouring councils and as a result were losing places.

She said that there were not enough foster carers currently working with the council to support the number of children who needed a place, leading to independent agencies being brought in at additional cost and children having to live outside the county.

Ms Byrne told the meeting: “Using East Lothian foster carers is the most cost-efficient way to provide care for children who cannot reside with their families.

“Currently, our fee is lower than other authorities and we understand from feedback this is a barrier to people applying and retaining our carers.

“An increase in fees will allow us to support more children and stop our carers leaving East Lothian to provide for neighbouring authorities.”

'An amazing job'

The meeting heard that the current weekly payments for foster carers was £160 for children under the age of 12 and £220 for those aged 12 and over.

From April 1, they will increase to £315 for all foster carers, with an enhanced payment of £365 a week for ‘level 3’ carers who have significant experience.

Councillor Shamin Akhtar welcomed the increase, which was approved unanimously by cabinet.

She said: “I want to say to foster carers they do an amazing job providing a nurturing environment and experiences for our young people.

“Anyone who is considering fostering should get in touch with us. They will receive a huge amount of support.”

Speaking after the decision, Councillor Fiona Dugdale, cabinet spokesperson for children’s and family services, said: “We cannot overstate how important it is that we have dedicated and loving foster carers within East Lothian to offer safe, supportive and stable homes to children and young people when they need them.

“I am pleased that we are increasing our weekly fees to foster carers for the important work that they do.”

To find out more about fostering with East Lothian Council, visit or call 01620 827643.