Foster carers are demanding urgent help to protect themselves and the children they look after, if they get ill.

A union is calling for foster carers to be paid Statutory Sick Pay if they are ill and unable to look after the children temporarily in their care.

Representatives said the current crisis has highlighted a problem in the benefits system for foster carers.

They fear that if a foster carers becomes ill during the coronavirus pandemic then children would be removed from their care and they would have no money coming in.

The Foster Care Workers Branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is calling on the government to introduce urgent measures to ensure local authorities and independent fostering agencies respect the right of foster care workers to keep their families and the children in their care as safe as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide the financial support necessary for them to do this.

The say the guidelines could separate children from carers and leave some facing poverty unless they are given help.

Jane Wright, chair, Foster Care Workers Branch of the IWGB says: “During a time of crisis, those caring for the most vulnerable must be treated with respect.

“Foster care workers are under immense pressure.

“We are still being asked to take children out of self-isolation and with no rights and no government support, many face destitution if we develop symptoms and self-isolate.

“If Covid-19 separates a child from their foster parent who then can’t pay their bills, where is that child going to go home to?

“The additional, unnecessary trauma being forced on care-experienced young people and their carers is barbaric and it’s putting lives at risk.”

Allowances for foster carers to cover the cost of looking after a child vary across the UK and within Scotland.

A survey by the Fostering Network in 2018 found in Glasgow the allowances range from £137 per week for a child aged 0-4 years to £236 per week for a 16 year old

The IWGB said the UK government’s continuing denial of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to foster care workers nationwide now stands to have devastating consequences for them, their families and the children in their care. As things stand, any foster care worker who develops symptoms will, if the children in their care are relocated, lose all their income. This is already the situation facing hundreds of respite foster care workers, whose shifts have all been cancelled.

“This will likely drive still more people out of the profession at a time when the foster care system is already facing a severe shortage of at least 8,600 people.