News by Month
EFCA Newsletter - March 2023
Here is your March 2023 Newsletter from the EFCA
We have (scroll or click on the link to jump to a topic):
- Staying Put Fees
- Phoning the Emergency Duty Service
- Update on Capital Grants
- Handbook update
- Added Benefits - Update
- Who’s that person in your life that goes that extra mile?
- Colchester Swimming Event
- EFCA AGM - Save the date!
- Do you muddle up EFCA and ESCA?? Here's a handy guide!
- Raising funds for the EFCA
This is everyone’s News so let’s get started!
Do you know there is a Facebook group specifically for Essex Foster Carers? It is a closed and private group that you must be invited to join. It is a brilliant platform for asking questions and meeting like-minded people. If you wish to join, just send us an email with a name of another foster carer who can verify you to email@example.com.
Remember we are here for you, if you need the EFCA for questions, queries, problems or just need a chat! Find us on the Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Your quadrant EFCA representatives are:
Essex have agreed that the Staying Put fee is going up to £270 per week, backdated to October 2022 in line with the other fees.
It seems we are still having problems with the Emergency Duty Service. As much as I know Foster Carers only call this line when they are in dire need for assistance, this is only an answer machine line where a member of the Emergency Duty Team will listen to your message and either call you back themselves or pass a message on to the duty Social Worker who will then call you back. Leave a message and they will come back to you. If you need advice or help, please remember your EFCA Trustees are here for you – day or night.
We have now heard back from Williams Giles with regards to the Tax implications of having a grant from ECC when you have an extension done on your property. There seems to be some dispensation for people looking after CWD but this has not been clarified:
Unfortunately, as these large payments are quite unusual and there is no specific tax law to address these, it is difficult to give a one size fits all answer as they would normally be dealt with very much on a case by case basis.
However, as Foster Carers are treated under the same trading rules as other self employed individuals there are some general principles to look at for example is the payment to be treated as income or capital? If it is income then it will likely to be added to a carers total income, and then you would need to consider if there are any additional expenses to offset against this income. If the payment is deemed to be capital, then the payment is potentially not likely to be viewed to form part of a carers income, and assuming that they are using the Qualifying Care Relief method to calculate their taxable income from Fostering this would then have no impact on their taxable income.
There are some notes on HMRC in respect of their treatment of grants here:-
But I would stress that each case is different and would recommend that a carer receiving grants takes individual professional advice.
We have also asked Essex to consider the following questions –
1. Given we must agree to continue to Foster for a few years if we take on a grant. If due to circumstances beyond our control (for example a sudden debilitating illness) would we still be liable for the payment?
Their response –
The agreement signed just talks about if you stop fostering the monies will be clawed back it does not give exceptions. We would not want to put in exceptions because if someone with a large house stopped fostering due to illness if they chose to downsize the tax payer should still be expected to receive the monies owed back. In practice we have never enacted the claw back but I would imagine if we did, that extenuating circumstances such as having no income, would be taken into consideration with any payments back.
2. If we decide that we wish to leave Fostering before the allocated agreement of the grant we have to pay back a pro-rata amount, could this be less than the tax amount that was paid.
Their response –
I think this could be negotiated. As we have no precedent for the claw back to be enacted I have no idea of the mechanism of how this would happen! I would have to take advice from legal should this happen.
Essex are still working on updating the Handbook and I know some of you have expressed concerns with the fact that Social Workers are saying it is out of date and therefore the rules have changed. If you are still experiencing this then please get in touch with us and we will take your concerns to Essex.
Having spoken with a number of Foster Carers and other FCA Associations I would like to put the following forward for consideration and discussion.
- Continuous Service Awards – to be paid weekly after a certain number of years a Foster Carer has been working with Essex. No response
- Pension This is a national problem, and we need to work together.
- Health Care (Subsidised?) This was not dismissed – however it is a National Problem
- Entry into Essex run organisations – Gyms, Child Care Essex made the same offer.
- Council Tax – although some carers are out of county. This is going to be very difficult as the have to approach each council and ask.
- No placements for a short while – an amount of Fee paid No response.
- Foster Carer to be trained and to work along side LADO to help and support Foster Carers through an allegation - No response
- Proactive support for Menopausal Women (training, awareness) was met very positively.
- Pay the £150 for the Inland Revenue App if the returns will need to be done 4 times a year. No response as this has not yet gone ahead.
- Connected Carers and Foster Carers should be paid the same fee given they have the same responsibilities. There is an opportunity for some connected Carers to be on the same fee as Foster Carers. – Needs investigating further.
Feedback from the meeting held 26th January 2023 – unfortunately when we started discussing our ideas, Julie Macer-Wright's signal kept dropping out. There is a hope that there will be another meeting in the not-too-distant future to continue the conversations.
Essex have been in discussions with departments within Essex and some outside companies. They wanted to have our feedback on the following:
- Solar Together – Offering low-cost loans to Foster Carers in order for them to have solar panels/storage batteries.
- Sunday Saver Bus Passes – a promotional idea offering to some Foster Carers
- Electric Vehicle Lease – Helping Foster Carers obtain ‘green’ vehicles.
- Essex Outdoors – Offering discounted activity days during the school holidays.
- Family Activity Day – Getting all Fostering Households to come along to an event.
- Explorer Passes – offer through Competitions etc
- Active Essex – offering bicycles.
- Essex Libraries – offering Support Groups, Recruitment Groups at Essex Libraries
- Wellbeing – offering Counselling.
- Additional Requests – Cultural allowance for example - hair braids.
Broken furniture (insurance claims)
Please fill in the survey form for ECC by 19th March with your views: https://consultations.essex.gov.uk/rci/foster-carer-engagement/
Do you have the most amazing Social Worker, family member or fellow Foster Carer that goes absolutely over and above and beyond? We would like to help you say THANK YOU to them so please click here to complete the NOMINATION FORM! If you have trouble with that form or would prefer it, please download a Word document from EFCA_Nominations_2023.docx, fill it in and email it to email@example.com.
Nominations close 10th March and winners will be notified by email. The EFCA Trustees will vote for the best reasons as to why you are nominating and therefore is not open to Trustees!
Winners will receive a delicious Tiptree Hamper!!!
ESCA are the team that provide training for ECC. They can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. To book or manage your training use https://myessex.csod.com/client/myessex/default.aspx
Here are this month's fundraising activities
- Help us by using Gift Aid whenever you make a donation: GiftAid.pdf
- Giving Lottery : https://www.givinglottery.org.uk/support/essex-foster-carers-association
- Mother's Day Raffle
- Easter Hamper Raffle
- Adventure Island tickets : Email email@example.com
Have you or your partner made a donation (including Gofundme) to EFCA in the past four years? If you have and you have paid tax, please complete the Gift Aid Form at the link GiftAid.pdf, as EFCA are able to boost your donation by 25p for every £1 you donated. Once you have completed the form, just return it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's going to be pretty difficult to remember how much you donated in the past 4 years, so please estimate an amount.
Join the Giving Lottery and support EFCA using this link: https://www.givinglottery.org.uk/support/essex-foster-carers-association
To get your tickets please contact email@example.com
To get your tickets please contact firstname.lastname@example.org