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4.9.4 Financial Arrangements for Care Leavers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Along with all the chapters relating to looked after children this chapter was added to the manual in June 2011.

A comprehensive guide to fees and charges including rates of financial payments to carers, and parental contributions where a child is looked after can be found in operational instructions: Finance 3.1 Fees, Charges and Payment Rates For CYPS (see Camweb Intranet).

AMENDMENT

Along with all the chapters relating to looked after children this chapter was revise in December 2013 and should be re-read in full.


Contents

1. The Child Trust Fund
2. Financial Support for LAC
  2.1 Pocket Money and Clothing Allowances
  2.2 Financial Support for 16+
  2.3 18 Years Old and Over
  2.4 Bank Accounts
  2.5 Standing Order Payments


1. The Child Trust Fund

Key facts regarding the Child Trust Fund can be found in the children trust fund website. All children born between 1st September 2002 and 2 January 2011 (who were paid Child Benefit for at least one day before 4 January 2011 and who were not subject to any immigration restrictions as of 3 April 2011) are eligible for it and should by now have one. There are also additional payment arrangements for children in receipt of DLA and for children from lower income families.

There are special arrangements in place for looked after children to receive the Child Trust Fund. A fact sheet regarding this can be found on the HMRC web pages.


2. Financial Support for LAC

2.1 Pocket Money and Clothing Allowances

The National Minimum Standards are clear that the purpose of pocket money or a personal allowance must be clarified. As a young person becomes older, the purpose will change in order to encourage independence and budgeting skills.

However, a child or young person should be given pocket money in order that they have money to spend (or save) At the beginning of the placement, it should be clear what the pocket money is being given for e.g. sweets, comics, toys etc.

Financial operational instructions 6.11 regarding fortnightly foster carer payments offers clear guidance regarding the withholding of pocket money as a form of sanction

2.2 Financial Support for 16+

The Children (Leaving Care) Act (2000) introduced rules about financial support for young people living in supported or independent accommodation. The rules are quite complex and will depend on age, present circumstances and triple planning.

The allocated PA or SW should give advice and guidance to make sure a young person gets the financial support to which they are entitled and any additional incentives at the discretion of the authority.

NB All aspects of financial planning a provision must be located in the Pathway Plan.

Under the law the main responsibility for providing financial support to 16 and 17 year old care leavers now rests with the local authority rather than the benefits agency. This will mean that all relevant young people along with some eligible young people (who are no longer in a LAC placement such as residential or foster care and have moved into a semi-independent environment) will be entitled to such support as they are not able to access mainstream benefits, such as JSA, income support, housing benefit.

The local authority must provide a young person with financial support to meet rent (basic rent and support charge but not personal service charge) and cover personal income needs. The level of financial support provided will be no less than what a young person would get if they were claiming benefits.

The local authority must also provide assistance with expenses associated with employment, education or training and other general assistance.

All young people who are either in care or a care leaver (if they meet the residency criteria) will be eligible to receive a bursary of up to £1200 per year. To be eligible the young person will need to be under the age of 19 on the 31st August of the academic year in which they start their program of study, they can continue to be supported via this bursary until the end of the academic year in which they turn 19 or to the end of the program of study, whichever is sooner.

See Cambridgeshire County Council LAC and Leaving Care (16 - 25) Finance Handbook 2013.

2.3 18 Years Old and Over

On reaching age 18 a young person must depend on earnings and/or claim benefits, including Housing Benefit, as the local authority is no longer the main source of financial support.

However, a young person must continue to be given additional assistance with expenses associated with employment, education or training and other general assistance, which will be provided on a needs led basis.

See Cambridgeshire County Council LAC and Leaving Care (16 - 25) Finance Handbook 2013.

2.4 Bank Accounts

Young people should be assisted to open a bank account and any appropriate regular payments such as maintenance and incentives made by Standing Order to their account.

2.5 Standing Order Payments

This is used where financial support needs are stable and, usually, will cover costs in respect of accommodation, HE bursaries, subsistence, incentives, travel (related to education, employment or training or family contact) and other essential need.

A letter to the bank - authorising a Standing Order - is raised by the 16+ Business Support Team and must be signed by service or team managers.

Wherever possible cash handling in the team will be kept to a minimum and payments made to young people through BACS.

In the circumstances of a young person aged 18 awaiting their Asylum Support or benefits application being processed this copy may first be kept aside by the 18-25 Business Support Team to calculate any overlap monies given to a young person beyond their 18th birthday.

Each young person will have a different set of needs and different capacity to manage budget. Some young people will be capable of budgeting for themselves but for those not yet able to do so the local authority should help the young people learn to handle money wisely so that they are able to cope with the greater independence of being a former relevant child when they reach the age of 18.

Some young people may have funds of their own such as legacies, or income through employment. The council should treat capital and income according to the DWP regulations governing Income Support (The Income Support (IS) (General) Regulations1987).

However where a young person has been awarded a sum in compensation for a criminal injury, the council should disregard that capital entirely in the case of a relevant child.

The council should ensure that such a young person has access to sound financial advice about the best use for such funds, bearing in mind that normal rules - in respect of benefit entitlement, student loans etc - will apply when the young person reaches 18.

A young person above the age of 18 years without any decision regarding their asylum application cannot apply for welfare benefits and, instead, are supported by the national Asylum Support Contact Centre.

Approximately 6-8 weeks before their 18th birthday a young person must be assisted by their allocated social worker or personal adviser to apply for Asylum Support. The Asylum Support Contact Centre provides a Reference number and the details are added to an electronic list maintained by the 16+ Business Support Team and regularly sent to the Home Office for reimbursement. Without a reference number no name can be added to the list.

Home Office - UASC.

In practice a young person will remain and be supported in accommodation originally provided by the local authority and the Asylum Support allowance is reclaimed from the Home Office.

Where an UASC is awarded a compensation claim from the Home Office for being illegally detained in an immigration centre, further exploration needs to take place as to whether their benefit or Asylum Support entitlement is affected.

End