Financial support for care leavers

‘Setting Up Home’ Allowance

All ‘former relevant’ care leavers are entitled to a maximum of £2000 in relation to setting up home costs (formerly known as the Leaving Care Grant). This allowance is not paid as a cash sum, but is allocated on a needs led basis, primarily for white goods,   The allowance can be accessed up to age 25; even if you are no longer involved with a Personal Advisor.  On occasion, part of the allowance may be used for other things that you may need.  Any discretionary arrangements will need to be approved by your personal advisor. Your first TV license will be paid for from your setting up home allowance too. 

Driving Lessons

We will agree to fund 10 hours of driving lessons for those who can show the ability to purchase any further lessons and to pay for your theory based and practical test. We will also purchase a provisional driving license which will act as a form of photo ID. 

Passport

All children in care should have a valid passport.  We will ensure that when reaching 18, yours is still in date.  If not then we will purchase one for you.  Any additional passports needed after your 18th birthday should be discussed with your personal advisor who will consider your circumstances and we may then provide this for you.

Support to Claim Benefits

We will support you to apply for the relevant benefits, if applicable at aged 18.  Whilst your application is progressing, we will continue to provide you with an allowance in line with the Universal Credit rate for a specified period of time.  You can also ask the benefits agency for an advance payment on your claim. We do not encourage this as this will mean you owe money to the benefits agency that has to be paid back from your monthly benefit payment.  Your personal advisor can give you advice and guidance in relation to this.

You must also inform the benefits agency that you are a care leaver.  They will put a note on your file to this effect and will offer you additional support as necessary.  Please note that your Personal Advisor is not able to stop you being sanctioned for whatever reason, but can advocate on your behalf and advise on the process of challenging a decision if you think it is unfair. Your personal advisor will also liaise with the Single Person of Contact (SPOC) at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Allowances Prior to Turning 18

Prior to turning 18, if you live in a semi-independent placement, the placement provider may take an agreed amount out of your weekly allowance each week to cover essential bills.  This is designed to help prepare you for adulthood, so there are no financial ‘shocks’ in store for you when you do turn 18. This amount will be agreed beforehand with you and your social worker.  You will receive a weekly allowance equivalent to the current Universal Credit rate.  If you are in foster care or residential care, you will receive a weekly allowance in line with regulations. 

Emergency Assistance

Should you find yourself in a crisis situation, then your Personal Advisor may provide emergency assistance.  This could include shopping vouchers, or a foodbank referral, clothing, credit put on gas/electricity meters and transport passes/travel warrants.  Money will only be issued in exceptional circumstances and your personal advisor can also complete work with you around budgeting to support you to manage your money in the future.

Any other emergency assistance would be considered on a needs led basis. 

If there are significant debt issues, you will be supported to access specialist debt advice, through the Citizens Advice for example. www.warrington-advice.co.uk 

Assistance to Attend Interviews

We want to encourage all our care leavers to access education, training or employment.  According to your individual needs, we will provide travel costs for interviews and suitable interview clothes if you do not have any.. 

Incentive Allowance

For care leavers who reside in residential or semi-independent accommodation, to encourage attendance in education or training post year 11, we will provide a financial incentive of up to £20 per week.  This would be in addition to any other allowances you receive. If you are engaged for 8 hours or less then you will receive £10 per week.  If you attend for more than 8 hours then you will receive £20 per week. Education providers may also provide an additional allowance in addition to our allowance.  Your financial incentive will continue to be paid up until your 19th birthday if you attend education, training or employment consistently and can demonstrate good attendance.

In exceptional circumstances, a financial incentive may be paid to someone who lives at home with their parents. This will need to be discussed with your social worker prior to turning 18 and documented in your Pathway Plan.

16 to 19 Bursary Fund

There are 2 types of 16 to 19 bursaries both funded through your education provider.

Vulnerable student bursary – You could get a bursary worth up to £1,200, depending on your circumstances and benefits.

Discretionary bursary – You could get a discretionary bursary if you need financial help but don’t qualify for a vulnerable student bursary. Your education or training provider decides how much you get and what it’s used for.

Your provider will decide how you get your bursary. You might be, paid in full or in instalments, paid in cash, by cheque or through a bank account or given things like a travel pass, free meals or books instead of money

Some providers also offer one-off payments to cover study trips or travel for university interviews.

To qualify for the vulnerable student bursary the following must apply:

  • you’re in or recently left local authority care, or
  • you’re disabled and you get Income Support in your name or
  • you’re disabled and you get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in your name or
  • you’re disabled and you get Universal Credit in your name in place of Income Support or ESA 

You may get the full amount if you have expenses and study full-time on a course of at least 30 weeks.

You’ll usually get less than the full amount or no bursary, if one of the following applies:

  • your course is shorter than 30 weeks
  • you study part time
  • you have few expenses 

You’ll be told what evidence you need, for example benefit letters.  Your Personal Advisor will help you speak to the Student Services department of your education provider. 

Apprenticeship Bursary

As from August 2018, all care leavers aged 16 -24 taking up an apprenticeship are entitled to a £1000 bursary to help with the additional costs and barriers as they face the transition to the world of work. Payment will be made via the training provider at set periods – usually in two instalments. 

Access to Higher Education

Young people applying for higher education need to apply for a student loan to fund their tuition and maintenance whilst undertaking their academic course. A student loan needs to be applied for from the first year that the young person intends to take up a higher education place and the application must be in by May of that year.

Repayment of the loan is made through the tax system, direct debit or by a lump sum payment.

All higher education establishments have Support Funds to assist the students. It is recommended that once the young person has entered university or college they apply to the Support Funds for assistance with the purchase of books and other materials. This can be applied for through the Welfare Support Officer at the University/College.

Gaining life experience at University is obviously an important part of your life. You may wish to take on part time work to complement your studies. Warrington Borough Council will provide details of temporary vacancies within the Borough via the Careers and Employment Advisor.

A bursary of £2,000 will be available to support care leavers through at least one course of further or higher education.  How this is allocated will be discussed with your Personal Advisor and recorded in your Pathway Plan.

A computer/laptop to the value of £200 will be provided to assist in the completion of course work if you do not have one and there is no scope for providing one through the education provider.

We will fund the holiday accommodation charges as agreed in the Pathway Plan. The funding of the accommodation will be set at the mid-range point for student accommodation in the area they are living. 

Birthday Allowances

If you are under 18, you will receive an annual birthday allowance of £50. This will be paid direct to you as a lump sum or we can provide you with a gift to the value of £50, you can speak to your personal advisor about this. Birthday allowances will be paid to all young people on their 16th, 17th and 18th birthdays. 

Religious Festival Allowances

Your Pathway Plan will give consideration to the long-term needs of the young person to maintain cultural or religious links. Financial support can be provided for Eligible young people living independently and Relevant Care Leavers to attend weekly religious meetings or festivals. It will be the responsibility of the Social Worker and Personal Advisor to gain knowledge of important religious dates for the young person and to provide gifts and cards which are appropriate.

For under 18’s, the Local Authority will provide a Festival Allowance up to a maximum value of £50. This amount will be paid direct to you. In addition, festival payments will be paid to you on the festival immediately following their 18th Birthday.  

Activities

Prior to turning 18, your Social Worker should ensure that you have access to a range of hobbies/leisure activities. .  Details of any such activities will be agreed in your Pathway Plan. Post 18, your personal advisor can help you to budget which can then help you to continue with any hobbies or leisure interests you may have.   

Costs Associated With Special Needs

Advice and support, including financial assistance, may be provided for care leavers with additional needs. You may be able to claim PIP/ESA, but this will be discussed with you individually and advice sought as necessary. 

Spending time with Family and those who are important to you

It is acknowledged that travel costs to enable young people/adults to spend time with family and friends can be a barrier. The time you spend with your family must be agreed as part of the Pathway Plan and if significant costs are likely to be incurred, these costs will be reimbursed by us, we will encourage you to use the most cost effective means of transport. . Post 18, you will be expected to fund your own arrangements to spend time with family and friends unless there are exceptional circumstances.  This will need to be agreed in your Pathway Plan and your personal advisor can also support you to budget for this within your finances.

Counselling and Therapeutic Needs

As part of the Pathway Plan, discussions must take place with the local health services to ensure that Eligible young people living independently and Relevant young people are being provided with the health support required.  If there are any gaps in service provision, we will consider funding the service, subject to approval from the Head of Service. 

Help With Purchase of Glasses

For those care leavers requiring glasses or frames, up to aged 18, an allowance of up to £65 may be paid for the purchase of these.

Help with NHS Costs

If you have a low income, the NHS Low Income Scheme could help you pay for:

  • NHS prescription charges
  • NHS dental treatment charges
  • the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports (check with your hospital for their arrangements for supplying NHS wigs) 

The amount of help you’re entitled to depends on your household income and outgoings. Any help you’re entitled to is also available to your partner, if you have one. If you have already paid for treatment, you can apply for a refund at the same time as you apply for the scheme.

Anyone can apply as long as they don't have savings or investments over a certain limit. You can't get help if you or your partner (or both) have more than:

  • £16,000 in savings, investments or property (not including the place where you live)
  • £23,250 in savings, investments or property if you live permanently in a care home (£24,000 if you live in Wales) 

Please see www.nhs.uk  or ask at your GP surgery for further details 

Doorstep Lending

We strongly advise against any form of doorstep lending.  If you consider you have become the victim of a ‘loan shark’, we will support you to report this to Action Fraud, telephone 0300 5552222, or to the police on 101. If your immediate safety is at risk then you should call 999. 

Local Support Scheme

The Local Support Scheme replaced Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants, which were ended by the government in 2013.

Warrington’s Local Support Scheme is designed to make sure we make the best use of the limited funding available to:

  • meet short term needs in the event of a crisis or emergency
  • support vulnerable people to remain in, or return to, the community

The scheme has two elements:

  • helping people in the event of a crisis or emergency
  • helping people to return to or remain in the community 

You are able to apply for items you need to help you live independently, or for help in the event of an unforeseeable crisis or emergency. We may also refer you to a local support service. For example, if you need help because of debt issues, we could refer you to someone to help sort this out. We do not supply cash payments through the scheme, but we may pay a supplier for what you need. If this is furniture, it will be good quality, re-used items. 

You can apply to the scheme if you are:

  • Resident in the Warrington area
  • Moving to the Warrington area
  • Aged 16 or over
  • On a low income and without access to sufficient funds to meet immediate needs

and you also fit one of these circumstances:

  • you are leaving a place of care, prison or temporary supported housing and need help establishing a home
  • without the items applied for, you wouldn’t be able to remain living independently without the need for formal care
  • you have a need that has come about as a result of an emergency or disaster and you or a family member would be at risk if this need is not met. 

Other possible avenues of support include:

  • www.turn2us.org.uk – Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.
  • www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk – This provides free and impartial money advice, set up by the government.
  • www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk – The Trust contributes to the relief of poverty, with a particular focus on fuel poverty, helping those who are struggling to pay for their consumption of gas and electricity get back on their feet and remain debt free going forward.
  • www.citizensadvice.org.uk – Citizens Advice provide the advice people need for the problems they face and improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. They provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. 
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are awarding Short Term Benefit Advances (gov.uk) and Budgeting Loans (gov.uk). If you are not in crisis or an emergency situation, you need to call 0845 608 8526 to check your entitlement.
  • http://www.buttleuk.org/ - The Buttle Trust is the largest grant awarding charity in the UK that focuses solely on children and young people in need.