In Solihull, we want to ensure the support that we provide to you when you leave our care:
- Is what we would do for our own children (recognising that all families will have a budget to work within).
- Recognises you are an individual with individual needs.
- Supports you in taking risks and responsibility for yourself as a young adult. We will offer you a ‘second chance’ if things do not work out first time round. Everyone makes some mistakes during their move to independence whether they have been in care or not.
- Helps you to access and maximise all the support available to you through a range of services. This will include accessing benefits, practical and financial support.
- Ensures all young people who have left our care are treated fairly.
The amount of support, including financial support, that you will get as a care leaver will be dependent on your age and individual circumstances.
The amount of financial, and other support, you will get as a care leaver will be dependent on your age and your individual situations.
Solihull is committed to making sure you receive the right financial support in early adult life. To do this we make sure we review the financial support for young people every year.
If you are aged 16 years and are preparing to leave care, or live independently, you may get the following financial support.
When you leave care to live independently you will be eligible for a Setting Up Home Allowance. If you need it, you could receive up to £2,000. The allowance is made available as and when you are assessed as needing part of it. This allowance may be given to you in part lump sums or in agreed instalments over a number of months or years.
Please consider the following when spending your allowance.
- Buying second hand goods (but not second hand electrical items). You may get better quality furniture and soft furnishings at a cheaper price than what you can afford if you bought new.
- Looking at buying items on special offer or waiting for sales to get bigger discounts.
- Planning ahead for example, buying some items such as towels, bedding, crockery etc whilst you are still in care. You could use your short term savings for this.
- Using some of your savings, and any other grants available to you, to help towards some of these costs.
- We will provide £200 cash for you to purchase some small items. We will purchase larger items that we agree with you through an online ordering system.
- To help you budget effectively there is a cap on certain items. Please discuss this with your allocated worker.
When most young people leave home to live independently they cannot afford everything they need straight away and cannot always afford everything new.
Your setting Up Home Allowance will need to last until you are no longer eligible for a service from us, for example when you are 21 years of age (or up to your 25th birthday if you are needing support from us to continue in education or training).
If you are living independently, and are not entitled to Income Support / Universal Credit, we will provide you with a Personal Allowance.
Your PA will discuss your options with you and, if you are considered in need of a personal allowance, your PA will agree with you how this will be paid. This applies to 16 and 17 year olds in supported accommodation (not those living with foster carers or in a residential home).
If you are eligible to receive Universal Credit / Job Seekers Allowance on your 18th birthday, your allocated worker will assist you to make a claim in good time. If there is a gap in this funding you may be able to use your savings or we may help to support you in cash or kind over a short period of time.
Your social worker or PA will support you to make an application for financial support from Local Welfare Provision which you may be able to receive when you initially leave care. This will help you in setting up your home and may mean you can leave some of your Setting Up Home Allowance for later on.
You may be able to apply again for financial support to help you set up home if you are having another go at independence.
Ask your social worker or PA to support you in applying for this.
You will receive a Birthday Allowance each year until your 21st birthday. You and your PA will agree how this is paid.
You may get money (cash or a payment direct to your bank account) or a gift card. The values are:
- £25 for your 16th and 17th birthday if you are living in supported accommodation. (If you are 16 or 17 years old and still in foster care, or a residential home, your carer will provide your birthday present).
- £50 for your 18th birthday.
- £15 for your 19th and 20th birthday.
- £30 for your 21st birthday.
If you are aged 16 or 17 years of age, and live in supported accommodation, you are entitled to a Festival Allowance of £50 per year. This will be used to purchase an agreed gift or to cover festival expenses.
If you are aged 16 or 17 years and still in foster care, or a residential home, your carer will provide a festival gift and provide support for your cultural needs.
If you are living in supported lodgings we may, in consultation with you, pay your landlord, or carer, to have some or all of the allowance paid to them so that they can provide special food and / or a gift for you to celebrate.
When you get your festival allowance will depend on your religious beliefs and will be agreed between you and your social worker.
During the first winter after you have left care to live independently, you may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Allowance from us. To qualify you must be:
- In receipt of benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance or other benefits as a result of being on a low income.
- Under 21 years of age.
- Responsible for your own heating costs.
This is a discretionary payment that will need to be agreed by a Manager. If you are eligible you could receive £5 per week, for up to 8 weeks, between 1st January and end of February.
You may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) if you are in receipt of Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit AND have
- A disability.
- A child under 5 years of age living with you.
- A child with a disability.
- Receive Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability. Please check the DWP website or ask your PA for more information.
If you are pregnant, and aged under 21 years, you may be eligible for some financial support if:
- You are on a low income or benefits.
- It is your first pregnancy.
- You are expecting more than one child.
We could offer you the following support whilst you are pregnant:
- Up to £70 for clothing when you know you are pregnant. It may also be possible to consider up to a further £70 when you are 6 months pregnant.
- Up to £50 for a hospital bag. This is for the things you and the baby will need when you go into hospital for the baby’s birth, including the purchase of a first baby outfit and nappies.
Your PA or midwife will support you to claim a grant of £500 from DWP if you are eligible for one. This is to buy all the essential items you need for when your baby is born. If you are not eligible we may be able to assist in purchasing essential equipment up to £350. Your PA may also be able to offer support to access 11 funding from other organisations for you and your baby.
You will usually need formal identification of some kind, usually a passport or driving licence, as well as your National Insurance Number, to start work with an employer, claim benefits, set up a bank account, to say you are who you say you are, get into a pub or club etc. When you leave care to become independent you should already have your birth certificate as well as a renewed passport or provisional driving licence. If you did not have a formal type of photographic identification when 10 you left care, we will pay for you to obtain one type of identification whilst you are between 18 and your 21st birthday.
If you are an unaccompanied young person and there are immigration issues to be resolved, your PA will help you to get the right documentation required to prove you are who you say you are.
If you are a young person who cannot access legal aid to meet solicitors’ fees for an immigration application, we will consider assisting you with these (up to a maximum of £1,500) if this will be the best way to meet your identified needs. Ask your PA or social worker for more information.
Try to avoid it by budgeting carefully and saving if you can …but if you do get into debt get help as soon as possible.
Even if you do budget your money there may be times when you have an unexpected bill or something else happens that means you can’t pay the bills.
When you have left care you will be responsible for paying for your holidays. If you are at college or university and there is an important trip you need to do you may be able to get support form the Education Funding Panel.
Your social worker or PA will support you to access all the benefits you are eligible for. In exceptional situations we may be able to provide you with a one off or regular financial help. This will be:
- Limited to £150 per year maximum.
- To meet your essential needs only – such as public transport costs to promote contact with family members or previous carers.
- To meet essential cultural or religious needs.
- To prevent you experiencing hardship.
- To provide you a gift on the birth of your child.
- Where there is no other funding available.
- Agreed by a team manager.
The Head of Service can consider additional discretionary financial support in exceptional cases of hardship. These will be looked at on a case by case basis.
When you have left care at 18 you will be responsible for buying your own clothes. You may be able to get some support from Children’s Services if you need clothes for an interview or if you are pregnant.
We will offer you advice regarding benefits and grants or signpost you to benefit experts to make sure you are maximising all the benefits which you are entitled to. Please ask your social worker or PA for more information.
Sometimes we may not provide you with the support you feel you need or we may not agree to provide you with a particular service or funding you have requested. There may be a number of reasons for this so it important you understand the reasons for you not getting the support you feel you need.
Your PA should:
- Record any decision not to provide you with a service or funding and the reasons why.
- Tell you about the reasons for this decision (and give you details of the complaints process if you would like this).
If you are unhappy about a decision, you need to firstly try to talk to your PA before making a complaint as they may be able to help you understand more about why this decision has been made or why the support is not available.
If you decide you want to make a complaint, you may want to have an advocate to support you in making the complaint.
Children’s Services will be reviewing the financial support available for care leavers every year. Please let us know your views on the policy and any suggestions you may have. We will consider these when reviewing the policy.