Foster carers to get priority for bigger council houses

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FOSTER parents are to receive special consideration for larger council houses in order to deal with increasing numbers of youngsters without a family.

Registered foster parents will now be entitled to apply for homes with more bedrooms in order to have space for foster children after councillors approved the new plans.

The city council’s health, social care and housing committee heard that the number of foster children has increased from 850 in 1999 to 1350 at present.

More than a third of these children are placed with foster families and around 40 placements are expected to be needed every year.

Until now, a family could only apply for a home based on the number of children they have when they made the application.

The system did not take into account the fact they were registered foster parents awaiting a placement.

Sara Lurie, director of the Fostering Network Scotland, said the change would make it easier for families to foster.

She said: “We welcome this commonsense approach which will allow foster families to be ready to offer homes to the many fostered children in Edinburgh who need them. This has potential to be a very exciting development and we look forward to seeing how it works in practice.”

The decision came as councillors also approved plans to allow ex-armed forces personnel to jump the EdIndex waiting list for a council home.

The length of time they have served in the armed forces will be given the same importance as the amount of time that others have spent on its housing waiting list.

This means those with five years’ service would have the same level of priority as someone who had been on the housing list for five years.

The only stipulations are that veterans must apply within three years of leaving their service and that those who are homeless or have mobility issues will remain on the existing silver and gold priority lists.

There is an average of 138 bids for each council and housing association home advertised on the Key to Choice website and as of May there were 25,800 people on the waiting list.

Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s housing leader, said: “I’m delighted that we will be able to help people who have left the armed forces and are struggling to find somewhere to live.

“Many of them have spent time overseas serving their country and putting their lives on the line to defend our freedom and way of life. It is only right that we do everything we can as a council to help.”

Ian Ballantyne, chief executive of Scottish Veterans Residences, added: “Veterans are not looking for a handout but rather a hand up. This policy will certainly help achieve this and it is one that we would encourage all other local authorities to emulate.

“Our service men and women have contributed immeasurably to preserving our freedoms and it behoves us all to do everything possible to support them when they leave the services.”

rory.reynolds@edinburghnews.com

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