A council is to allow people to foster children who need a home even if they don’t have a spare room for them to sleep in, in a Scottish first aimed at tackling the shortage of carers.

North Ayrshire council said other local authorities and fostering agencies insist on families having a spare room before they can foster, but this was not in the interests of children.

The council claims removing barriers to fostering would allow more foster carers to provide a loving and caring environment for children who cannot live with their own parents.

Councillor Robert Foster, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “Historically, when someone first applies to become a foster carer, the first question they’re asked isn’t ‘what is your knowledge on child attachment’, or ‘what experience you have of helping children deal with trauma in their life’.

"It isn’t even ‘whether you can provide a loving and nurturing environment’, the first question is, generally, ‘do you have a spare room?’ Everything else comes after. We have to change this.”

Although it is a legal requirement for children who are fostered to be given their own room, Cllr Foster said any problems were surmountable. Would be foster parents who are renting could be given help to move to a larger council property or supported by local housing associations, while those looking to rent privately could be helped by the council's rent deposit scheme. Even home owners might be helped with the costs of moving, he said. "They wouldn't be left on their own to manage that," he said.

"At the moment any council in Scotland will ask you first 'do you have a spare room' and if you say no, the conversation goes no further."

“The system doesn’t work so it’s up to us to find new ways of having a positive impact. We want to create a nurturing, loving and caring environment for them."

The council has also agreed to tackle the stigma faced by young people in care by cutting out jargon which it says can lead some to be bullied. This follows a call from Scotland's Care Review to stop using jargon in ways which stigmatises children.

Bruce Adamson, Scotland’s Children and Young People's Commissioner, welcomed the council's approach: “All children should grow up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding and care experienced children tell us that the language and behaviours of those caring for them is often overly professionalised and impersonal," he said. "I’m also pleased to see such clear commitments to protect the right to an adequate standard of living by supporting potential foster families to access housing.”