Care leavers: your financial support and entitlements

There are a lot of different ways the Care Leavers' Service (CLS) are able to support you, and if they can't, they will be able to point you in the right direction to find the support you might need. Speak to your personal adviser (PA) who will be able to help you find out what support you can get.

The Coram Voice 'Sorted and Supported' Guide

In October 2020, Coram Voice - a leading children's rights organisation, launched the latest version of it's 'Sorted and Supported' publication, a guide for young people leaving care on their rights and entitlements.

'Sorted and Supported' explains what young people leaving care's rights and entitlements are and some of the support that should be provided by a local authority and how and when you can get this. 'Sorted and Supported' covers:

  • The law and your rights,
  • Advocacy,
  • The different legal status for care leavers,
  • Young refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and young people without British citizenship,
  • Care leavers with disabilities.

Even with the help of 'Sorted and Supported', leaving care can all seem very complicated. If you are a care leaver, and want more help or advice, contact Coram Voice's helpline free on 0808 800 5792 or visit the Coram Voice website for information on how you can get an advocate.

Moving out

Moving into your own home for the first time can be stressful and confusing. You might have to think about a lot of things you haven't had to before, like rent, bills and other things. Getting the stuff that you need for your first home is often expensive. Some homes may come fully furnished, and others won't; so, getting the rights things you need will be different for each person. Your PA will be able to support you with this, and some of the things the CLS can help with are:

  • Setting up home allowance (SHA). This is an allowance of up to £2,000 to help you get the things you might need, like a bed, TV, sofa, fridge freezer or washing machine. You can also use your SHA to get other things like decorative items.
  • The CLS can also pay for a suitcase for you (up to £50) if you need one to help you move. Your PA may also be able to assist you in finding moving boxes and with moving on the day

Support if you are in education

Below is some of the financial support you as a care leaver may be entitled to:

  • Laptop – your PA can help you with applying for a bursary or grant to help you with the cost of a laptop if you need one for your course. If you are not eligible for the bursary or grant, then you may be able to use a maximum of £300 from your SHA allowance. You will need to show you have tried other means for support
  • Seeing your family – the CLS will help you with travel costs for up to 3 visits to see your family during the year within the UK only. You will need to look at the cheapest form of public transport, trying to book an advanced ticket. If you are driving, the CLS will give you 20p per mile you drive. You can speak to your PA if you need support with this
  • Educational trips – if the trip is an essential requirement for you complete of the course, the CLS will contribute a maximum of £100
  • Bursary – whilst you are studying on a higher education course only, the CLS will give you payments called a bursary. This will be a total of £2000 spread across a three-year course
  • Accommodation - the CLS will not help pay towards the cost of your living accommodation (e.g. Student halls, private renting or council housing) during term time of the course
  • Apprenticeships – support with travel for the duration of your Apprenticeship

Support if you are in employment

Below is some of the financial support you as a care leaver may be entitled to if you are in employment:

  • Employment travel - you will get support for the first four weeks, and your PA will help you to explore other schemes and options such a young person's 16-25 rail card which costs £30 a year, or £70 for three years and will save you a 1/3 on train fares

Council tax relief

In partnership with our Districts, Boroughs and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Surrey County Council have set up a new scheme which offers up to 100% council tax discounts to Surrey care leavers, living within the county, and aged between 18 and 24 i.e. until the day before their 25th birthday.

Who is eligible?

All Surrey care leavers living in Surrey aged 18 and up to the day before their 25th birthday who are a eligible care leaver by Surrey County Council's Children's Services.

An eligible care leaver is someone who has been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, was in care on their 16th birthday and who Surrey County Council looked after up to the point they left care. Eligible care leavers who are employed are also eligible for the 100% discount, regardless of their salary.

If there are other adults living with you but who are not care leavers then they will still have to pay council tax at the property. For example, if there is one other occupant, you would be exempt from paying, and the remaining occupant would receive the standard 25% Single Person Discount.

This scheme is effective from 1 April 2020 and is ongoing until further notice.

How to apply for the discount?

Eligible care leavers will need to apply for the discount by completing a form obtained from their district or borough – which can also be found online. The form will ask for contact details of the PA or duty desk to be able to confirm those eligible. The districts and boroughs will then issue annual 'Nil' bills to you until you reach your 25th birthday.

As the scheme starts from 1 April 2020, payments made for previous years council tax bills (i.e. before 1 April 2020) will not be repaid.

For any enquiries, please contact the Care Leavers' Service on 9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays excluding Bank Holidays.

Driving lessons

The road to driving just got a little bit easier. Care leavers are now able to get support with funding their journey to independence. If you are a care leaver, you are now able to ask your personal advisor for funding to pay for:

  • The cost of one provisional driving licence (if you lose this, the CLS will not find the cost of a replacement)
  • The cost of one theory test (if you do not pass first time, you will need to pay for future tests)
  • The cost of one driving test (if you do not pass first time, you will need to pay for future tests)
  • The cost of five driving lessons. You will need to evidence that you have paid for five yourself. Your PA will need to see proof of these, so always ask your instructor for a receipt

You will need to speak to your personal advisor from the CLS for further information on how you can access this support.

Helpful resources

Capstone Care Leavers Trust

The Capstone Care Leavers Trust (CCLT) awards grants to people aged 17-25 years who have been in local authority care in England or Wales and are in need. The CCLT also offers advice and guidance to young people to help reduce their experience of social exclusion and enhance their life chances. They can be also contacted on 0121 374 2601. The CCLT will consider awarding grants for:

  • Further Education courses
  • Higher Education courses
  • Training courses
  • Laptop
  • Travel costs to place of study/training
  • Driving lessons - subject to meeting criteria
  • Practical Driving Test
  • Household goods – Sofa, chairs, cooker, fridge, freezer, washing machine bed, wardrobe, drawers.

Open University Course: The MoneySavingExpert Academy of Money

The Open University (OU) has joined forces with MoneySavingExpert (MSE) to produce a new free course to give you the skills and knowledge to master your finances. The course was written by the OU, with MSE providing support and guidance.

Packed with videos, audios, quizzes and activities, the course covers all the key aspects of personal finance in six sessions of study that each take around two hours to complete. The course starts by looking at how to be savvy when spending money and the different pressures can influence what consumers buy. The course also looks at budgeting and the impact of tax on household finances.

To sign up to complete this free course, visit the Open University website. You will need to create an account before starting the course.

Members of the User Voice and Participation Team have completed the training. Read below about what they had to say.

  • "The training was very helpful and useful to do. However, it was very long winded and would take a lot of patience to complete but it is worth it as I learnt a lot. For example, I now know that a fixed rate mortgage is the best option for a mortgage."
  • "This training was very insightful and opened my mind to all of the things I need to be thinking about to prepare myself financially for the future. I am so happy I have completed this training as it has given me a lot more knowledge around saving my money, opening accounts, and sorting out a mortgage. I would encourage anyone to take this training as it is great and prepares you for what to expect in the future."

Barclays Life Skills

Barclays Life Skills are offering free online lessons to support you with finance and money management. These are a fantastic resource to help with budgeting, understanding bills, rent and other expenses as helpful information about financial fraud, scams and identify theft.

Young Enterprise Workshops

We also wanted to share with you resources created by Young Enterprise. This helpful information provides guidance on key money-making decisions young people might need to make when they start living independently.