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Knowsley Carers given a helping hand to cover cost of Covid

by Gemma Melling

Foster carers and those looking after vulnerable adults as part of Knowsley’s Shared Lives scheme will be receiving additional allowances from the council, in recognition of the extra expenses incurred during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The decision was taken after councillors became concerned about the financial burden that the pandemic and lockdown is having on the borough’s carers, who are crucial in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

With children at home more often, foster carers have seen an increase in costs – for things like food and utilities. Shared Lives carers similarly, have been doing more caring recently, with the usual day care activities, support from personal assistants or school and college places often being temporarily unavailable. This change of routine has been particularly hard on people with autism, who may have found this incredibly challenging – and again, this has impacted on their carers.

Councillors have now agreed a generous package of additional financial support to help carers meet these additional costs – and as a thank you for the hard work and dedication these incredible people provide.

As a result, Foster Carers working directly for Knowsley Council will receive an extra two weeks’ fostering allowance and are able to apply for additional money if they have specific expenses that aren’t covered.

Shared Lives carers will receive a permanent increase of 1.4% to their current rates, as well as a one-off payment to carers who’ve had a placement during the pandemic, equivalent to an additional two weeks’ pay.

In total, the council is investing around £86,000 to support carers at this time.

Cllr Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We’ve been listening to the voices of our carers, who are telling us that the cost of caring has increased due to the lockdown. On top of the financial impact, the amount of time they are spending caring for those who are placed with them has increased significantly, too.

“We also know that, nationally, the Fostering Network and Shared Lived Plus have been lobbying the Government to raise awareness of the financial impact Covid-19 has had on carers. To my knowledge, there has been no formal response from Government yet, but here in Knowsley we felt it important not to wait – our carers need support now.”

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “Our foster carers and Shared Lives carers do an incredibly important job, on behalf of this council and on behalf of all of us in society. It cannot be right to leave them worse off financially, having really stepped up during the pandemic to continue to deliver the very best quality care to some of our most vulnerable people.

“We want them to know we appreciate them and for them to be properly and fairly rewarded for their efforts.”