South East Wales

Bridgend council agrees £3,000 savings payout to care-leaver

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Media captionRob Johnson hopes others will now benefit

A "goodwill payment" of £3,310 has been paid by Bridgend council to a foster care-leaver whose savings were not monitored.

It comes after the public services ombudsman for Wales asked it to pay the amount to Rob Johnson, 18, following an investigation which said monitoring of the savings was "inadequate".

The council said it took its role as corporate parents extremely seriously.

Mr Johnson said he was "over the moon" he will receive the payment.

In a joint statement, the ombudsman and council called for the clarification and strengthening of national policy regarding requirements for foster carers to set aside savings.

Foster parents are advised but not required in law to save for the young people placed in their care.

The statement explains the ambiguity of the requirement, saying it "can and does lead to inequality between foster children placed with different families, and a solution is needed at a national level which addresses this anomaly".

'Care and support'

It goes on to say that "clarity is needed on the requirements to make savings, to record savings and to record expenditure from savings, as well as on the issue of who is responsible for savings made on behalf of a looked-after child and the duties on local authorities to oversee and monitor savings".

As a result of the investigation by the ombudsman, the council accepted their own procedures should be tightened up and followed consistently.

Ombudsman Nick Bennett said: "I am very pleased that the council has made this goodwill payment, and that our complainant will feel that his injustice has been corrected. We are in agreement on the need for broader change and clarity."

Council leader Huw David said: "Councils provide a wide range of care and support for looked-after children, but this specific issue needs to be urgently addressed as local authorities can only currently recommend that foster carers make savings for children in their care.

"I would like to see the policy strengthened and national measures put in place to prevent such a situation from reoccurring, and to help ensure that looked-after children can have the best possible start in life."

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