Financial help for care leavers

Your personal adviser (PA) or social worker will help you to develop the skills to manage your money and understand any benefits you may be entitled to.

In addition, your worker will make sure that there is someone to support you in the event of a crisis or when things do not go according to plan.

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

In most instances, Harrow will not be responsible for your daily living costs. Claiming benefits, if that is what you need, 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.

Your worker will help you to get these in place before your 18th birthday, and support you to apply for your benefits before your birthday so that everything is set up to reduce any delays in payments.

If you are receiving benefits and find yourself in a ‘sanction’ from the DWP, which usually means that you will receive no money, you should contact your 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

Emergency Payments

There may be unexpected situations that arise that may leave you in a financial crisis or at risk of not being able to eat or heat your home.

In these times, a one-off emergency payment can be provided. We will talk to you about this option should the need arise.

Help with your rent

If you are over 18, living away from your family and are studying full-time in non-advanced education (up to and including A Level or equivalent), you can claim Housing Benefit.

You can enrol in your course of study at any time up to your 21st birthday and can continue to receive these benefits up to the end of your studies or the end of the academic year in which you become 21 years old, whichever is earlier.

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 likely to have difficulty paying your full rent, you can approach the council and ask for Discretionary Housing Payments.

These are not guaranteed, but the council may be able to help you for a period until you find other accommodation or earn enough to pay your rent yourself.

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.

This payment is an important mark of your independence, so we will want you to spend it wisely and on things that will help you to make this important step towards independence.

Additional one-off payments

In addition to any benefit or subsistence payments received, care leavers can also receive additional funding in the following circumstances:

Housing costs – dependent on 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 to young people not in education or training if they do not qualify for Oyster Card coverage.

We will also help you to purchase suitable clothing for job interviews or jobs which require specialist equipment.

We will also provide you with 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. We will support you to develop budgeting skills, and you will be invited to attend a “My BNK” training, which takes twice a year, and is open to all care leavers.

Savings and Junior ISA

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

You can only access your savings or your Junior ISA after you turn 18. Your savings is important and is to help set you up for your adult life, and you will be able to access this with support from your personal advisor.