Financial support

For full information on Hounslow’s financial support package for care leavers including costs related to your education, you can ask your worker to send you the ‘Care Leavers Finance Policy’.  The financial support you receive will be set out in your Pathway Plan which should be developed with you. It will set out the areas of support, amounts to be paid and how often you will receive payments. This will be reviewed every 6 months during your Pathway Plan review meeting but you can ask your worker to review your support needs earlier if you need to.

Who is entitled to support?

The financial support you are entitled to will depend on what your leaving care status is – for example how long you were in care for, your age and, if you were an asylum seeker, whether you are ‘Appeals Rights Exhausted’. Your worker will be able to tell you what your status is and what you are entitled to based on this.

Bank account & savings

Bank account

You should have a bank account by the time you are 16 (unless you are a newly arrived asylum seeker). Payment of all allowances and grants will go into your bank account unless there is a reason why you are not able to manage your own money.

Savings

If you were in care for a while you will have money in a savings account that you can access when you turn 18. The weekly saving that will be have been put in a bank account for you until you turned 18 are:
age 10 and under £5 per week
Age 11 and over £10 per week

Subsistence

If you are 16 or 17 living in semi-independent accommodation you will receive subsistence payments as you are not yet old enough to claim benefits. Subsistence payments will be paid into your bank weekly to help with your day to day living costs.

Benefits

Just before your 18th birthday you will be expected to submit a claim for benefits. Your worker will discuss and plan this with you as part of your Pathway Plan and provide support with the application process. You will be supported to manage your income so your everyday needs such as food, travel, toiletries and any contribution to service charges, utility bills and rent are met.

If you are in education you are, in some circumstances, entitled to claim Income Support (IS) and Housing Benefit (HB) or Universal Credit (UC), depending on the area you live in.

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. For more information about this go to https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

If you are ill or disabled you can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which provides financial support if you are unable to work or study, and personalised help so that you can work if you are able to. How much ESA is paid depends on your circumstances, such as income, the type of ESA you qualify for and where you are in the assessment process.

Support with benefits

Your worker will help you apply for benefits when you are old enough. If you are receiving benefits because you are not working you must attend appointments with the Job Centre so that your benefits are not stopped.

Income changes

Sometimes your income source may change and you experience a period without any money coming in such as:

  • When waiting to receive welfare benefit payments
  • When stopping benefits because you have found a job
  • When moving from one type of benefit to another

If this happens, the Leaving Care Team will provide financial support equivalent to your benefit entitlement for up to 6 weeks, once you have given proof of the change in your income (examples of proof could be a benefit claim, or a job offer). If support is needed longer than 6 weeks this will be the decision of the Leaving Care Team manager. You may also be provided with food vouchers or travel cards.

Sanctions

If you have your benefits payments reduced or stopped for a period of time this is called a ‘sanction’. You may be sanctioned if you are not doing what you should to find employment. If this happens, your worker will support you to get your benefits restarted, and provide you with assistance in getting food vouchers if needed and apply for help from other agencies or organisations.

In exceptional circumstances, your worker can ask the Team Manager for a payment to be made to you if it can be shown that you have tried all the options and you’ve been unable to get support.

Crisis Grants

Care Leavers can apply for a Crisis Loan from the Department for Work and Pensions if you:

  • need extra help in an emergency
  • are working but are on a low income

More information on all benefits can be found at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

Budgeting skills

When you are age 16+ we will offer you a two-day Money Management course called ‘Money Works’. Budgeting is a very important life skill so it is important that you take up any opportunities offered to you.  This course is compulsory if you are applying for independent housing.  You will also be offered budgeting sessions with your key worker or support worker.

Other sources of funding

There are some organisations and charities which awards grants to care leavers to help with things like education and training and moving into independent accommodation. See page 2 of this Factsheet from the Become charity to see what funding you could apply for.

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