Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Grant Shapps: Housing rules should not be a barrier to a stable home life
Housing Minister Grant Shapps recently called on councils to give the dreams and aspirations of prospective adoptive parents and foster carers a helping hand, and cut through red tape hindering adoptions and fostering.
Forthcoming guidance will make clear that councils will be expected to consider how their actions could help people in their area who are looking to adopt or foster a child in need of a stable, loving family.
Currently there is a Catch-22 situation that is blighting prospective parents' and carers' efforts to adopt or foster: legislation rightly requires adopted and fostered children to have their own bedroom but currently it is often difficult for prospective adoptive parents and foster carers to obtain a larger council house before their application to adopt or foster can be approved.
Mr Shapps said this new forthcoming guidance on allocating council homes would break down the barriers between different council departments and ensure that the needs of children waiting for adoption will be considered and the needs of those wanting to adopt or foster can be met.
Whilst councils will continue to allocate on the basis of need, these new recommendations call for the needs of those people looking to adopt or foster to be considered.
The Minister argued that the need for good foster homes and the wider social benefits of bringing children out of care and into a stable and loving home are too important for them to be frustrated by council departments working in isolation. These measures will call for children's services and housing departments to work closer together to do their utmost to help.
Grant Shapps said:
"It is a tragedy that we live in a society where bureaucracy and red tape can prevent children from being adopted or fostered into a stable home. I want the dreams of prospective foster carers and adoptive parents and the dreams of children in care to be realised.
"I want councils to be creative with the powers and flexibilities we have given them: if a family is willing to take the brave step of adopting or fostering a child, we should aim for a housing system that supports them rather than getting in the way. The wider social benefits of bringing children out of care and into a stable and loving home are too great for them to be stymied by council departments working in silos.
"I will also be looking at any way, we, in Whitehall can make the process smoother for prospective foster carers and adoptive parents. Over the next few months we will be undertaking a wider trawl of housing and local government red tape and looking to amend anything that might be preventing people from coming forward to foster or adopt a child."
Children's Minister Tim Loughton added:
"We urgently need more people to come forward to adopt and foster children. We must make sure that when people do come forward, local authorities are doing everything they can to make the process easier. Issues around the number of bedrooms in a home should not be preventing children from finding safe, loving placements with families.
"We want to see more local authorities using their common sense on these issues. New housing guidance is a welcome step forward, and will give local authorities more flexibility in how they handle housing applications for prospective adopters and foster carers."
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