Financial help for care leavers

You'll need to develop skills to manage your money and any benefits you are entitled to. Your personal adviser (PA) or social worker will help you. They will make sure there is support for you in the event of a crisis, or when things do not go according to plan.

You may still receive some financial support once you are 18. However, you will be expected to find your income from work, education grants, and benefits, if applicable.

In most instances, Harrow will not be responsible for your daily living costs. Claiming benefits is not simple and you need to ensure you apply for everything you are entitled to. Your PA will be able to help you with this. You will need identification documents and a bank account for the benefits to be paid. They will help you to get these in place before your 18th birthday. They'll also help you apply for your benefits before your birthday so that everything is set up. This will reduce any delays in payments.

If is possible, if you're receiving benefit, to find yourself in a 'sanction' from the DWP. It usually means that you won't receive money. Please contact your PA or social worker immediately.

Debt and money worries can have a serious impact on your well-being. In Harrow, we would want to know as soon as you start to worry about having enough money.

At that moment, we will help you. We won’t be able to give you more money than you are entitled to.

But we will find ways for your life and living arrangements to be manageable. Do not leave these worries unresolved, please get in touch.

Council tax

Harrow Care Leavers will be exempt from paying Council tax until their 25th Birthday. The exemption will apply after all the usual discounts, exemptions and rebates have been used.

For further details and to apply see Council tax exemption for care leavers

Transport for London Care Leaver Oyster card

If you're 18 to 25 and a care leaver living in a London borough, you can get discounted travel with an 18-25 Care Leaver Bus & Tram Discount Oyster photocard. To take part in the scheme, you need to tell your social worker or personal advisor from Harrow that you’re interested in applying. If you're eligible, they'll share your data with TfL and you can then apply.

For further details and to apply see 18-25 Care Leaver Oyster photocard - Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk) or speak to our Participation Officer Joy.Bell@harrow.gov.uk

Free prescriptions

NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificates (PPCs) are available to all Harrow care leavers so you do not need to pay for items prescribed by your GP. The PPC is available to all Care Leavers who were previously looked after by Harrow, as long as they fulfil the following criteria: 

  1. Are aged 18-24 years – up to their 25th birthday
  2. Are a Care Leaver from Harrow
  3. Are registered with a GP
  4. Not already eligible for free prescriptions

You can apply via the website at Buy an NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate - NHSBSA or via the NHS Low Income Scheme website NHS Low Income Scheme | NHSBSA . Please contact your social worker or personal advisor to support you with making an application.

Emergency Payments

If you experience an unforeseen financial crisis you may be short of money for food or to heat your home. Should this happen, a one-off emergency payment can be provided. We will talk to you about this option should the need arise.

Help with your rent

You might be entitled to Housing Benefit. To qualify you'll need to be:

  • over 18
  • living away from your family
  • studying full-time in non-advanced education (up to and including A Level or equivalent)

You can enrol in your course of study at any time up to your 21st birthday. You'll receive the benefits till the end of your studies, or the end of the academic year in which you become 21 - whichever is sooner.

This help is also available to you if you have stayed on with your former foster carers.

Housing Benefit can pay for all or part of your rent. If you are going to struggle to pay your rent, you can ask the council for Discretionary Housing Payments. These are not guaranteed. However the council may help you for a period until you find other accommodation or earn enough on your own.

TV Licence

Everyone who watches TV, even if it is only via a catch-up service or online on your laptop has to have and pay for a licence.

Payments can be divided up into weekly or monthly payments, and again, your PA will support you to apply. You are at risk of a fine or worse if you do not have a licence.

Setting up home allowance

It is an exciting time being able to choose your own furniture and how your home will look. We will provide you with a grant of £3000.

This will not be given to you in one lump sum and will be spent with your Personal Adviser. The grant is not intended to meet the costs of personal support or accommodation costs.

How you use the payment signifies your independence. So we will want you to spend it wisely. Use it for things that will help you to take this important step towards independence.

Additional one-off payments

You might also be able to claim housing costs. This is dependent on a financial assessment and agreement by the Director or Deputy Director of Children’s Services.

Travel costs for attending a training course.

Fares to job and education interviews will be provided. This is specifically for young people who are not in education or training, and they do not qualify for Oyster Card.

We'll help you to buy suitable clothing for job interviews or jobs with specialist needs.

We'll also provide a travel warrant to support contact with your family if you or they live outside of Harrow.

My BNK Training – helping you budget

Managing your money is a key part of adult life and we'll help you develop budgeting skills. You'll be invited to attend a “My BNK” training which is open to all care leavers. It runs twice a year.

Savings and Junior ISA

We put away savings for all children looked after by Harrow. In addition, if you have been in local authority care for 12 months or more you're entitled to a £200 payment. This is from the government and it goes into a Junior ISA.

You can only access your savings or your Junior ISA after you turn 18. It's important that you learn to save. The ISA is to help set you up for your adult life. You'll be able to access this with support from your personal adviser.