Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

5.9.2 Children in Care and Leaving Care Financial Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Nottingham City Council is aware that Care Leavers are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion because they often have to make their transition to adulthood much earlier than most other young people. Our Financial Policy aims to mirror the type of support families provide within the current budgetary climate. Our aim is to support Looked After Children and Care Leavers to manage their financial resources and money helping them to take responsibility for themselves but recognising that the process of learning involves making mistakes and having chances to learn from those.

This Policy is available to young people so that they are clear as to what can be reasonably expected in terms of financial support.

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

Children and Young Persons Act 2008

Care Leavers Regulations 2010

The Children Act 1989, Vol 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in August 2015 and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Setting Up Allowance
  2. Identification Documents
  3. Criminal Injuries
  4. Access to the Provision of Financial Support
  5. Hardship Payment
  6. Young People Who Return Home
  7. Birthday/Christmas Allowances
  8. Travel Costs
  9. Welfare Benefits
  10. Further Education
  11. Qualifying Young People
  12. Incentives, Contributions, Sanctions


1. Setting Up Allowance

In respect of the Setting up Allowance (see separate policy) all young people should have an Assessment as to what will be required marking the transition to adulthood can be an extremely stressful process for any young person but also one that can be rewarding. Moving to their own flat can enable young people to assert their identity and enable them to make choices about how they finish their own homes which can improve their self-esteem and confidence.

Personal Advisors, Foster Carers and Residential Staff need to offer support to maximise the allowances they get to set up a home.

The current Setting up Home Allowance is assessed and awarded depending on what items are needed to set up their first home.

(For the suggested items list see Independence Policy - Setting Up a Home).

It is envisaged that Carers will save out of pocket - money for ‘bottom-drawer’ items to assist young people when they move into their own flat.

The following items may be agreed as one-off payments to assist setting-up for young people:

  1. Removal costs to ensure young people are not moved premises with bin-liners;
  2. Television Licence (£150). Young people should be encouraged to save up/budget towards this cost; as they are not purchased by the local authority;
  3. Home Contents Insurance. This will need to be individually assessed for each young person. This needs to be funded by the young person themselves.


2. Identification Documents

In order to avoid social exclusion Nottingham City Council on a needs assessment basis may support young people to obtain birth certificates, Citizen ID cards or other identification documents if necessary. The Child in Care Team or Leaving Care Service will provide funds for forms of identification necessary to a young person and this will normally be in the form of either a Passport (if the young person needs a passport for a holiday, under 18s only, and agreed by Service Manager).


3. Criminal Injuries

Young people who receive a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) should be guided to seek independent financial advice regarding the use of their award.


4. Access to the Provision of Financial Support

All young people need to be aware of what entitlements they can have and how they will receive them. We need to clear that this group of young people as individuals are diverse and therefore how we provide the financial support should be reflective of this.

Majority of young people should be told clearly by their allocated Social Worker and/or Personal Advisor how/where they receive any monies from i.e. setting up through their bank account, directly to them on visits, visit to an office etc.

Young people need to be informed of any conditions attached to any payments, the frequency of those payments etc.

Where young people live outside of Nottingham City arrangements must be put in place with the Local Authority they are based in regarding financial support in a crisis situation.


5. Hardship Payment

See Hardship Payments Policy.

Nottingham City Council Leaving Care Service will provide food/money to assist young people who are in a financial crisis.


6. Young People Who Return Home

When, following a statutory review, young people who are accommodated under Section 20 return home in a planned manner they cease to be Looked After and become relevant children. On returning home the young person’s parent(s) are able to claim benefit if the young person is in education/training. After 6 months (and following a Review) if arrangements are successful the young person becomes a ‘qualifying’ child. Social Workers/Personal Advisors need to undertake an assessment as to what, if any, financial assistance is required and ensure siblings who may not have been Looked After are taken into account and parents financial circumstances/independence are not undermined.


7. Birthday/Christmas Allowances

All young people who are in the care of Nottingham City Council who are under 18 will received a card,and a £22.00 Birthday Voucher yearly. Christmas presents/allowances need to be agreed by relevant carers.


8. Travel Costs

Those young people Looked After within Residential Homes or by Foster Carers under 18 are entitled to reasonable support in respect of travel costs. This needs to be individually assessed as to what travel is required and for what purpose i.e. will a day-rider, bus pass, train ticket be required. All travel costs have to be considered as reasonable and necessary primarily to access education and training. (Bus Pass £32.50 monthly is considered reasonable).

It would be expected that the carer of any Looked After child would provide any transport costs.


9. Welfare Benefits

Although Nottingham City Council whilst not wanting to encourage Care Leavers to become dependent on benefits will assist young people to maximise their income from benefits, education and training allowances.

All young people should be provided with a guide on benefits and be supported on how to access them.

Given the complexity of claiming benefits Personal Advisors should actively support young people with their initial benefit claim. This should include registering their claim, accompanying to the Job Centre appointments if required, completing forms, providing supporting documents.

Payments made under section 23B, 23C, 24B of the 1989 Act are disregarded by the Department of Work and Pensions for the purpose of calculating entitlement to benefits such as Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseekers, Housing Benefit, Council Tax and Child tax Credits. They are also disregarded in assessing students for higher education. If young people are in receipt of benefits they will no longer be eligible for Nottingham City’s Living Allowance. The exceptions to this are young people in Further Education and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Young People post 18 who are in Appeal.


10. Further Education

Nottingham City Council will encourage young people to access further education. This will need to be made clear within the Pathway Plan and young people need to be informed as to what financial support they will receive.

Young people access further education will be entitled from Nottingham City Council the following:

  • £2,000 Bursary;
  • Living Allowance (comparable to Jobseekers);
  • Non-Term Time Accommodation;
  • Course Fees should be paid for by Student Loans/Grants;
  • Course materials should be purchased via Living Allowance alternatively an application needs to be made to the virtual school for a personal education Allowance.

Local Authorities are now expected to provide assistance to Care Leavers in full-time education up to the age of 25. However this has to be a needs-based assessment. The young people within this criteria will need to have a completed Pathway Plan that sets out the support/assistance required and this needs to be signed off by the Head of Service.


11. Qualifying Young People

Nottingham City Council may give advice, guidance and assistance to certain groups of young people who ‘qualify’ for Leaving Care Support. Qualifying young people are defined within Section 24 as a person who is:

  1. Aged 16 but under 21;
  2. Who is under a Special Guardianship Order (up to 18) and was Looked After prior to that Order;
  3. At any time was Looked After but is no longer.

In these circumstances Nottingham City Council need to ensure a robust assessment is undertaken to determine whether the young person requires support and/or financial assistance.

This Assessment will set out clearly what is to be offered and will need to be signed off by the Head of Service


12. Incentives, Contributions, Sanctions

Nottingham City Council will provide accommodation and maintenance to its Care Leavers as long as their welfare requires it.

The other support offered is set out in this policy.

Nottingham City Council as good corporate parents will work with young people on an individual basis to look at incentives, contributions and sanctions that might be applicable.

Incentives - As good parents it is important to recognise when young people are doing well Pathway Plans should record any incentives that may be utilised e.g. cards sent by staff, leisure activity as a reward, small ‘reward’ for congratulating young people accessing education and employment.

Contributions - If young people are earning above what is considered a reasonable threshold (i.e. earning much more than they would receive from benefits) it may be acceptable to identify within the pathway plan as to where a young person can contribute to utilise, rent etc. The principle being that this is part of their development of their preparation for independence.

This should be discussed with the young person and recorded/reviewed.

Sanctions - As ‘good parents’ it may be appropriate at times to apply sanctions for young people who may be abusing their maintenance allowance or other support given. In these cases Personal Advisors and/or social workers need to discuss this with the young person and ensure it is recorded.

For example if a young person is misusing maintenance allowance buying alcohol/cigarettes on a regular basis staff could supervise allowance or stop a portion of it or withdraw and provide food only.

End