Financial Support for 18+
Your Social Worker will help you to start the application for benefits to which you may be entitled to a month before you turn 18yrs. Claims for Universal Credit can be started one month before your 18th birthday.
If you have applied for benefits and are waiting to be paid, we expect you to apply for an ‘advance payment’. You will also need to provide your Personal Adviser with proof that you have applied for benefits.
Universal Credit is the benefit you may be eligible for. It is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. There are two parts to it - a payment to you for your expenses and a payment to help you pay your rent. The rent part must be paid to your landlord.
The 18+ Care Leavers Service will help you with your claim for benefits but it is important that you attend all your appointments at the Jobcentre and engage with your Work Coach there. When claiming benefits you must follow certain rules, otherwise you may lose your benefits or have them reduced. This is known as a sanction.
The 18+ Care Leavers Service will only be able to provide food vouchers the first time you are sanctioned, the second time we may refer you to a local food bank. You may not receive any further financial support from us if you are sanctioned again.
Your Personal Adviser will be able to advise and support you with applying for benefits and for the duration of the claim.
Click on the link to read more about Universal Credit.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
If you are already receiving DLA, you may receive a letter to change it to a PIP as DLA is gradually being phased out. If you apply under the age of 16, you will automatically be assessed for the PIP.
Click on the link to read more about the Personal Independence Payment.
Essential Living Allowance (ELA)
The 18+ Care Leavers Service will support you to claim benefits if you are out of work. However, if you are unable to claim benefits, then you will be offered a weekly essential living allowance. This payment will be equivalent to state benefits and you will be expected to use this for your living costs, including your rent, and household bills. These bills could include gas, electricity and water.
You will need to spend your essential living allowance on day to day essentials and you should budget your money and pay for essentials first, such as food and bills.
If you have a Kent Card when you move over the 18+ Care Leavers Service, because your Child in Care Social Worker applied for it, then we can continue making payments on that. However, if you do not have a Kent Card and have already turned 18, then your Personal Adviser will arrange the ELA for you.
Should you become, ‘Appeal Right Exhaust’, your ELA payment will be changed to £40 per week.
If you have been in care for a long period of time, you will have a savings account that you are able to access once you turn 18. Further information about the savings scheme can be found on the Share Foundation website.
Depending on how long you have been in care your savings may be a substantial amount – use this money to help you with your future.
Being able to manage your money is important when moving to independence. If you are not aware how to budget and spend your money wisely then you may struggle when you live on your own. The 18+ Care Leavers Service can offer you support on how to do this.
Not being able to budget properly may affect you in the long-term and if you require budgeting support then speak to your Personal Adviser. In some cases, you may have access to a key/support worker where you are living who has dedicated time to help you (this is called ‘support hours’); this can include budgeting and other independent living skills.
If you need advice or more information about managing your finances or are struggling with debt, have a look at the following websites:
Citizens Advice: information about managing your money and coping with debt
National Debt Line: free, independent debt advice
Step Change: free debt advice and money guidance
Setting up Home Allowance (SUHA)
We will offer you a setting up home allowance up to the value of £2,000 to buy essential items for when you move into your own home. SUHA is paid in instalments of £500, once receipts have been provided verifying previous payments.
Wherever possible, we can order your items online which will help ensure the money is spent on quality goods and is only spent on essential items needed to set up your home. You will need to choose items from the essential items list and this will be agreed in your Pathway Plan.
If you are a parent and have care of a child, we can support you with an additional £200 on top of your SUHA as a one off payment regardless of the number of children you have.
At times you may need essential items of furniture before you move onto independent living; the Care Leavers 18+ Service Team Manager must agree costs and only essential items will be considered.
We will support and promote you to progress into independent living in the community. We can provide additional financial support to cover your accommodation deposit, 1 month rent in advance and holding fees in addition to the £2,000 setting up home allowance.
We will hold back £500 of the £2000 allowance to cover any rent arrears or payment for damages that occur before you reach the point of moving into your independent accommodation.
We understand that everyone has their own individual circumstances. The 18+ Care Leavers Service will consider payments for ‘unexpected items’. These will need to be agreed by the 18+ Care Leavers Service Team Manager and an assessment of need will be carried out.
Bursaries for Education
Bursaries or money for your education and training will be provided. The Care Leavers 18+ Service need you to work in partnership with them and your education/training provider to ensure you are supported and receiving all the support you need from them. This will involve you taking part in discussions about your progress and attendance before bursary payments are issued.
The bursary for care leavers in higher education is up to a maximum of £4000 provided over 4 years of study (£1000 per academic year, paid in 3 installments in mid-November, mid-February and mid-May each academic year upon evidence of attendance and progress being made).
The Care Leavers 18+ Service can provide financial assistance to help purchase IT equipment and laptops for care leavers up to the age of 21 (unless in Higher Education up to the age of 25) who are in full time higher or further education where there is a need. This will be assessed on a care by case basis up to a maximum of £300 to help towards these costs.
We will assess, on a case by case basis, the extension of support and financial assistance for college travel fares up to age of 25.
Subsistence and Emergency Food Vouchers
The Care Leavers 18+ Service will pay for day to day essential items and food vouchers to provide to care leavers for those up to the age of 21 for a limited period for the following reasons:
- As part of an education package
- If you are unable to claim benefits
- If you are waiting for benefits to start
- It is an emergency as agreed by the 18+ Service Team Manager
The 18+ Care Leavers Service will support you to access food banks in an emergency, but please remember that there may be a limit on how many times you can access a food bank.
You should speak to you Personal Adviser if you think you need this additional support. However, if you have applied for Universal Credit, we expect you to apply for an advance payment. Your Personal Adviser will also ask for proof of your situation. We fully understand that emergencies do happen but it is our expectation that if you are claiming your benefits or receiving money from employment that you budget for emergencies.
For young people aged 18 - 21 years in receipt of benefits or on a minimum wage income, we will pay £120 per year to put towards clothing. It will be paid in two separate amounts of £50 paid in the summer (May) and £70 paid in the winter (September).
To receive the clothing allowance, young people would need to be claiming all eligible benefits and engaging with the service. Young people will need to provide receipts for proof of purchase but the 18+ Service can also order clothing online for you.
For young people who are aged 21-25 years, clothing allowance will only be paid in exceptional circumstances, at times of extreme hardship.
If a care leaver is in full time employment or not engaging with the 18+ Service, then they would not receive clothing allowance.
Birthday Money Allowance
£30 paid on 17th birthday.
£60 paid on 18th birthday.
This is arranged by the Children in Care Team and your Social Worker
TV Licence and Contents Insurance
For young people aged 18-21 years in receipt of benefits, on minimum wage income or in receipt of ELA, we will pay the full cost of the TV licence.
For young people aged 18-21 years in receipt of benefits or on a low income, we will pay contents insurance of up to £100 per year.