Managing money

Can you help me with managing my money?

We will offer you support through budget plans and if you’d like, the ASDAN project in order to help you manage your money. We will sit with you and go through what money you have coming in and see what your outgoings are.

We can then help you to set up payment plans for your bills and show you what you should have left and how to make this last until your next pay day.

We have our own budget plans which we will share with you but if you would also like to look for your own, or read some advice online the following links are really useful;

Can you help me with managing a back account/savings?

We want everyone to have their own bank account so if you don’t already have one, we will help you to set this up.

If you’re ever having problems or difficulties with money, just let us know and we will help you to find a way to support you with them.

We also believe that it is really important that you learn how to save. The Government set every looked after young person up with an ISA. They start this off with £200 and encourage you to continue adding to this – you will receive the details of this around your 18th Birthday.

One of our main aims is to help you prepare to manage financially now and in the future. We will be realistic with you about options, entitlements and future expenses for living so that we can best prepare you.

Can you help with the cost of setting up my home?

There is a setting up home allowance for when you move into independent living. This allowance is accessed as and when you are assessed as needing part of it. It’s used to buy ‘necessary’ items for your new home. This allowance may be given to you in goods (washing machine, cooker, bed etc) through orders to different shops (Argos, Ikea, Bonus Electrical, B&M Bargains, Tesco) or you may go out with your worker to purchase different items. We will also pay your first years TV Licence.

Buying second hand goods (but not second hand electrical items) may get you better quality furniture and soft furnishings at a cheaper price. Looking at buying items on special offer or waiting for sales can help too. Use websites such as Freecycle and Preloved to see what items they have and make your allowance go further!

Additional Needs are payments to help cover extra and sometimes unexpected costs. Usually these payments are linked to education, travel to health or cultural needs or ways to support employment / interviews. These payments are on a needs basis after discussion with your worker, and agreement from the Manager.

As part of making sure you have relevant ID, we will pay for your provisional driving licence. Then, if you are in education, training or work and have started saving a little bit towards; we will fund your first 10 driving lessons and fund your first practical and theory tests.

What are maintenance payments?

If you are aged 16 or 17 and no longer living in a foster placement or residential home we will provide you with a weekly maintenance payment. This will be the same amount paid by Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support.

At 18 you become eligible for benefits and as a Care Leaver, you are able to apply early; 2 weeks before you turn 18. Your worker will help you through the process and explain it all for you.

Job Seekers Allowance

This is for people who are actively looking for a job but haven’t yet found work. You have to attend the job centre every week for appointments (called ‘signing on’ appointments) with your job centre advisor and evidence that you are looking and applying for work. The current payment rate for Job Seekers Allowance is £115.80 per fortnight and gets paid into your account. If you don’t show that you are looking for work the job centre can sanction you by stopping your money.

Income Support

This benefit is for different circumstances. It will apply to you whilst you are in college and supports people who are in full-time education. You would attend an initial appointment with the job centre but once they agree you are eligible, you will receive fortnightly payments of £115.80 without having to attend appointments.

The Job Centre (DWP)

The Job Centre is run by the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and they are in the process of changing the benefits system over to something called Universal Credit. Not all areas are set up for Universal Credit yet but if your area is, your benefits will work differently;

All current benefits, for example; Income Support & Job Seekers Allowance will move under the Universal Credit Scheme. Other benefits such as Housing Benefit will also come under this scheme and your total benefit entitlement of all those you should be receiving will be paid to you in one monthly payment.

If you have problems with your benefits and gaps between payments, we may be able to help you. Get in touch with worker as soon as you realise there is a problem.

Do I have to pay council tax?

Nationally everyone now has to make a contribution to their Council Tax. If you are on a very low income this will usually be 20%. As a care leaver you may be exempt from paying this contribution depending on your circumstances. Our Accommodation Officer can look in to this for you.

If you are a student living independently you can get council tax exemption. The criteria you need to meet is;

To count as a full-time student, your course must:

  • last at least 1 year
  • involve at least 21 hours study per week.

If you study for a qualification up to A level and you’re under 20, your course must:

  • last at least 3 months
  • involve at least 12 hours study per week.

Can you help pay for higher education costs?

If you go on to University you will receive a bursary of £2000 spread out across the duration of your course. For a standard 3 year degree this works out as three equal payments of £666 and is paid to you at the start of each academic year.

We will also pay you a weekly maintenance of £58 to help you support yourself throughout the course. We’d like to know that you’re attending and doing well around the time we set the payments up each year.

Some University’s also offer additional help / finances to Care Leavers. It’s well worth checking this out with them and we will help you do this.

What are birthday and festival allowances?

You will receive a birthday allowance each year until your 21st birthday; this allowance is usually in the form of personal shopping vouchers.

You will also receive a festival allowance such as Christmas/Ramadan and again this will be paid in personal shopping vouchers.

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