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Bridging Retainer Payments

Foster care brings challenges as well as rewards. One challenge we don’t want you to have is the worry of an irregular income. We offer our foster carers the financial security of weekly Bridging Retainer Payments, plus a one-off payment when you accept a new foster child.

What are Bridging Retainer Payments?

These are weekly payments that are made to you in between foster placements to give you the peace of mind of knowing you have a regular, reliable income and financial security. In addition, you will also receive a lump sum payment at the start of your next placement. Our foster carers tell us just how much they value the security of this financial ‘safety net’.

Who is eligible for Bridging Retainer Payments?

You will qualify for Bridging Retainer Payments if:

  • You are available for fostering but currently have no children placed with you.
  • You have been an approved foster carer with National Fostering Group for one year or more.
  • You have not already received six weeks of Bridging Retainer Payments in any rolling 12-month period.

Ultimately, all decisions on eligibility are at the discretion of your local National Fostering Group agency’s registered manager.

Need more information about foster care pay?

If you would like more information, please fill out our enquiry form. If you ask for a call back, a fostering advisor from your local National Fostering Group team will get in touch to explain more about how to become a foster carer, and answer any questions you have about foster care pay and Bridging Retainer Payments.


  • Will I be taxed on my fostering allowance?
  • Are foster carers self-employed?
  • Can foster carers receive benefits?

Will I be taxed on my fostering allowance?

Foster carers will pay very little or no tax at all on their fostering allowance thanks to Qualifying Care Relief.

This means you don’t need to pay tax on the first £10,000 your household makes in any year.

You also receive additional tax relief of up to £250 a week for every child in your care.

More about tax and fostering here

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Are foster carers self-employed?

When you become a foster carer, you will need to register as self-employed, complete self-assessment tax returns to declare taxable income once a year and pay National Insurance.

More about self-employed fostering

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Can foster carers receive benefits?

As a self-employed foster carer, you are eligible to claim most state benefits, thanks to Qualifying Tax Relief.

You will still be entitled to claim child benefit for your own children and other children that are dependent on you. Exclusions will apply to the children that you are now fostering as you are already receiving the fostering allowance for each child or young person in your care.

Your fostering allowance is not classed as income when calculating your eligibility for means-tested benefits.

More about fostering and state benefits

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Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.