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Foster carers and benefits - Can I get legacy benefits?

Read our guide to Foster carers and benefits

Last reviewed 08 April 2024

Can I get legacy benefits?

It is no longer possible to make new claims for legacy benefits but if you are already getting them you can carry on getting them as a foster carer.

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you are already getting Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you can carry on getting it as a foster carer. Your work as a foster carer will not be treated as employment and the money you get from the fostering allowance will be ignored as income.

Housing Benefit

If you are already getting Housing Benefit (Housing Benefit England, Scotland and Wales / Housing Benefit Northern Ireland) you can carry on getting it as a foster carer.

If you are getting Housing Benefit in a private rented property, you can get one extra bedroom in your local housing allowance rate if you are a foster carer, even between placements. Housing Benefit in private rented accommodation is limited to the rate for four bedrooms, even if the size of your household might mean you need more than four bedrooms.

If you are getting Housing Benefit in a council or housing association property, you can have one extra bedroom if you are a foster carer, even between placements.

The money you get as your fostering allowance will be ignored when working out your Housing Benefit.

Income Support

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Income Support. If you are already getting Income Support you can carry on getting this as a foster carer, even if the reason you are currently getting it ends.

For example, Luisa is getting Income Support as a single parent for a 4 year old and has just started fostering another child. When her child turns 5, she won’t be able to get income support as the parent of a child under 5, but she can carry on getting Income Support as a foster carer.

The money you get as your fostering allowance will be ignored when working out how much income support you can get.

Tax credits

It is no longer possible to make new claims for tax credits but if you are already getting them you might be able to carry on getting them as a foster carer.

The hours you spend working as a foster carer will be taken into account when deciding if you are working enough hours for Working Tax Credit

You can’t get Child Tax Credit for the child you are fostering.

A lot of the money you get as your fostering allowance will be ignored when working out how much tax credit you can get.

If you are fostering a child under 11, the first £18,140 of the fostering allowance will be ignored and so will £375 per week per foster child.

If you are fostering a child over 11, the first £18,140 of the fostering allowance will be ignored and so will £450 per week per foster child.

For example, Pavel fostered two children aged 9 and 13 for 20 weeks. When working out how much tax credit he can get, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will ignore £18,140 + (20 x 375) + (20 x 450) so in total £34,640 will be ignored.

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