A call to exempt Blackburn with Darwen foster carers from council tax has been rejected by councillors.

The vote at the borough's full Council Forum on Wednesday night followed the authority's children's services boss Cllr Julie Gunn saying the Tory suggestion would not solve its recruitment problems.

Conservative leader Cllr John Slater, proposing a motion on the issue, said: "In recent years, we have become concerned the recruitment of foster carers by the council has stagnated.

"We are of the view the council must do more to both reward existing foster carers for their brilliant work and to attract new foster carers."

But Cllr Gunn told him: "It is great to have your support and that you share our concerns about the escalating costs of the provision of safe homes for our children who are looked after.

"We have recently invested over half a million pounds in our fostering allowances to address the issue of recruitment.

"We have begun to see the impact of this and have already exceeded last year’s recruitment with a further seven at various stages of the assessment process.

"This decision taken in August is much fairer than what you are proposing here since it puts more money directly into the pockets of all of our fantastic foster carers, in a way that your proposal does not.

"Not all our carers live in the borough. How would your proposal help carers who live in other local authorities?

"Have you costed your proposal? If so, which of children’s services would you cut to be able to fund this proposal?

"Based on the current number of foster carers the annual cost ranges between £185,000 to £239,000. This is clearly not the solution that you think it is.

"I am quite clear that our recent decision to increase allowances and the special skills additional fee per child, puts the money directly in the foster carers’ pockets, so is a much fairer and more equitable method of rewarding our fantastic foster carers and I make no apology for that."

Cllr Slater responded: "We need to find ways to encourage people to come and foster care.

"It is time we did something different, something rewarding and something financially to help people."