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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Financial Policy for ERFR in Independent Living

RELATED CHAPTER

Leaving Care and Transition Procedure

RELATED GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989, Guidance and Regulations, Vol 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers.

List of payments expected to be covered as essentials by the Local Authority for Eligible, Relevant and Former Relevant young people in semi or independent living.

'Care leavers are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion because they will have to make their transition to adulthood much earlier than most other young people. Local authority financial policies should aim to mirror the types of support that families provide, to be flexible to the differing needs of care leavers and to be aware of the fact that they are often being required to be financially capable and competent early in their adulthood. Local authorities should support looked after children and care leavers to manage their financial resources and money, gradually helping them to take responsibility for themselves, but recognise that the process of successful learning may involve learning from mistakes, taking risks and a requirement that a second chance with related financial support may be required'.

Contents

  1. Basic Needs
  2. Family and Social Contact
  3. Education/Training/Employment
  4. Identity, Leisure and Minimisation of Social Exclusion
  5. Health
  6. Accommodation
  7. Finance
  8. Emergency Assistance
  9. Other Grants Available
  10. Emergency Food Provision
  11. Young People Returning Home
  12. UASC Turns 18 Years whilst still an Asylum Seeker awaiting an Initial Decision
  13. UASC Becomes ARE

All allowances should be based on an assessment of need and be set out in the young person’s pathway plan. The plan must also highlight any attached conditions, how payments will be made, the frequency of payments and when they will be reviewed.

1. Basic Needs

  • Leaving Care Maintenance Allowance: To match current ISA/JSA levels (£57.90 pw April 15) or NASS S4 levels for All Appeal Rights Exhausted Asylum Seekers (£35.39 pw) where determined needed by Human Rights Assessment. This money pays for essential toiletries, food and entertainment. If in Prison £20 per month;
  • Five week grant at 18th birthday to ensure smooth transition between leaving care support and benefits if needed. Any further funding needed to cover transition due to delays in processing will be loaned to the young person, by signed agreement, and recouped on payment of benefits;
  • Provision of a suitable and appropriate placement/ accommodation or the means to secure the accommodation up to the y/p 21st birthday (this enabling y/p that we nominate for move on schemes to secure housing as it becomes available);
  • Clothing: £300 per year.

    Basic requirements are:
    • Winter coat;
    • Hat, gloves, scarf;
    • Waterproof shoes;
    • A second pair of shoes, probably trainers;
    • Socks, pj's and underpants;
    • Three jumpers/hoodies;
    • Three pairs of jeans/trousers/leggings;
    • Five T-shirts;
    • Two shirts/long-sleeved T-shirts.
  • Additional £50 per year for special shapes and sizes.

2. Family and Social Contact

  • Maternity Grant: £300.00 (Matches S95 asylum support amount). Available from 8 weeks before the ‘due date’ to assist UASC & British citizen young people in preparing for the birth of their baby;
  • British Citizen young parents can also access the mainstream £500 from week 29 of pregnancy until 3 months post birth (see Sure Start Maternity Grant - GOV.UK);
  • Lone parents should apply for healthy start vouchers to help purchase milk and fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables (see the Healthy Start website);
  • Travel to see family (siblings, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty). Intervals and arrangements must be documented in the Family/Social Contact Section of the Pathway Plan;
  • Baby warming present: £20 including card.

3. Education/Training/Employment

  • Interview/work/college clothes x 2 sets;
  • Haircut for interview;
  • Equipment for work;
  • Equipment/trips/uniform for college after all other funding applied for;
  • Stationery for the start of an education course: £20;
  • School/college/work bag: £15;
  • Additional EET related activity e.g. ball and or excursion dependent on attendance;
  • Travel for appointments/ interviews. If up front, needs to have attended;
  • Travel for those earning under £150 per week on the days they need to attend learning, volunteering or working. This can either be:
    1. A bus pass (applications for pass via educational institutions to be made where possible) or;
    2. A bicycle package including a bike, a helmet, lights and padlock. This would be supplemented by a bus pass in January and February.
  • Full-time work bridging grant of JSA/ISA equivalent per week for a maximum of 4 weeks while waiting for first salary payment;
  • Child care: to be supported in principle to enable access to EET and engagement with support services. All mainstream and alternative funding sources for child care to be explored. Where funding is not available from mainstream sources, child care funded by the leaving care service to be agreed on an individual basis by leaving care PAs and managers in negotiation with the young person;
  • EET Engagement Incentive: £30 FT activity, £15 PT for learning, working and/or volunteering that does not already attract a bursary or maintenance grant. This also enables financial support for y/p undertaking apprenticeships who may earn £2.50 per hour. (Incentive);
  • Completion grants: £1000 University or Apprenticeship Level 4-6 successful completion, £750 Level 3 - 4 HE/FE/Apprenticeship completion;
  • Negotiable grant up to £500 for Level 2 FE/Apprenticeship completion for specific support in order to access employment e.g. tools, uniforms, travel expenses;
  • Driving Lessons 10: total £200 (y/p contributes £5 per lesson OCC contribute £15 -as an incentive and linked to relevant EET activity e.g. apprenticeship).

Please see Care Leavers Higher Education Policy.

4. Identity, Leisure and Minimisation of Social Exclusion

Birthdays: (it is preferable that an occasion card is given with money):

  • 16th, 17th for those not in foster care: £30;
  • 18th birthday: £50 (additional money can provide a positive special memory or moment);
  • 19th, 20th: £30;
  • 21st birthday: £50 (additional money can provide a positive special memory or moment);
  • One recognised religious festival per year: £40;
  • Social activities/Leisure: Maximum of £50 per month (this can be for developmental courses, health and wellbeing and general interest);
  • Travel to access leisure activities and minimise social exclusion where appropriate on the days they need to attend;
  • Travel for those earning under £150 per week on the days they need to attend learning, volunteering or working. This can either be:
    1. A bus pass (applications for pass via educational institutions to be made where possible) or;
    2. A bicycle package including a bike, a helmet, lights and padlock. This would be supplemented by a bus pass in January and February.
  • Summer activity grant: £100 per year (Incentive - matched to children in foster care);
  • Birth certificate;
  • Passport. Photos included;
  • Travel documents based on assessment of need and only where the young person is travelling immanently and do not have a passport from their country of origin;
  • Citizenship dependant on length of time in country and individual circumstances (senior manager approval);
  • Provisional driving licence:
    1. For ID purposes: if no passport then driving licence;
    2. For driving purposes: only if the young person can demonstrate they can afford lessons.
  • First driving practical test (check with instructor that ready). Can be used as an (Incentive);
  • First driving theory test. (Incentive);
  • Travel for family/network contact on a reimbursement basis or up-front if necessary - needs to be having the contact with emphasis on local network where possible;
  • Bus pass for parents while engaging with child related services.

5. Health

Under 18 years in EET Full Time is NHS covered. 16 & 17 yrs. NEET - HC1 form needs to be undertaken.

18yrs low income - HC1 form needs to be undertaken.

Dental contribution by OCC of half if necessary/essential work is needed e.g. not cosmetic whitening treatment.

Optical: Prescription glasses/contact lenses top up £40.

6. Accommodation

  • Suitcase/rucksack: £30;
  • Placement change relocation costs.

Deposits & Grants

Deposit and rent in advance can be offered, where necessary and appropriate. It is intended that this money will move with the young person from house to house and not be repaid. Where this is requested, it will be authorised through supervision. Where ever possible the Lord Mayors Deposit Scheme is to be accessed for private sector deposits.

For Former Relevant care leavers who have reengaged with plans following chaotic housing the Setting Up Home Allowance can be considered for deposits to help secure accommodation.

City of Oxfordshire Charity for help towards educational costs, sickness help and general housing grant help.

City of Oxford Charity,
The Office,
Stones Court,
St Clements,
Oxford,
OX4 1AP.

In certain circumstances, CE&F's can act as a rent guarantor on behalf of a young person, where there is no family member willing/able to do so. There should be a clear contract establishing the maximum guarantee which must be authorised by an Area Service Manager.

Social Worker or the Personal Advisor will undertake a Suitable Housing Checklist in order to determine suitability of accommodation (as required under Schedule 2 to the Care Leavers Regulations 2010 and Schedule 6 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010).

Setting Up Home Allowance

Amendments made to incorporate: Appendix 3 recommendations for Vol 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers, Request made to all local authorities by Edward Timpson MP 2012 to provide £2000 setting up home allowance, Recommendations from NCAS & National Leaving Care Benchmarking forum authorities 2013.

The following is a guide, which should be made available to a young person who is setting up home. The agreed list will be identified in the pathway path following assessment of their needs. Consideration will be given to the manner in which some of these items can be procured in an attempt to make the budget spread as wide far as possible. Recycling sites and preloved furniture stores should also be considered as should quality items and warranties for maximum life span of the goods. OCC are exploring the use of Top Up cards for procurement of items. Combinations of corporate credit cards and invoicing to procure items in the interim is required.

The list is not exhaustive and may have to extend to take into account of special circumstances/needs. An inventory/running balance should be kept on file so that items can be procured as the need arises until 25years. This information should also be recorded on final pathway plans if closing at 21years so that any requests prior to 25years can be easily accommodated.

£25 for initial food purchases. This payment is for items such as tea, coffee, herbs, sauces, washing power, cleaning materials etc.

Kitchen Hygiene and care
Cutlery Washing up bowl and drainer
Kettle Dustpan and brush
Toaster Bucket and mop
Pots and pans (5 pce) Vacuum Cleaner (if not supplied)
Utensils Bins
Knives for preparing food Iron and Board
Chopping boards Hot water bottle and cover
Radio Alarm Clock Blanket
Kitchen bin Clothes airer
Cooker Washing Machine
Fridge/Freezer  
Bed/Bathroom General items
Towels Furniture - sofa and table/chairs
Linen TV licence 1 year or internet or prepaid dongle to same value
Bath mats 1st year Contents insurance also for those in independence pre 18years)
Duvets/pillows Removal expenses
Sheets/cases x 2 Fitting costs of gas and electrical appliances
Bed H & S kit - first aid kit, fire blanket, door chain, spare key
Curtains Decorating grant £20
Wardrobe  
Carpet and fitting  
  Total: Approx. £2000

Service Charge/Budgeting

Under 18 yrs care leavers are expected to contribute money £15 per week towards their keep (includes meals) in placements to help with budgeting readiness for independence. This money is to be held by the provider and given back to the young person when they move on as a reward for sticking to their budgeting plan. (Incentive).

7. Finance

Other income/Savings and Criminal Compensations

In line with benefits, any savings or capital under the lower savings limit of £6,000 will be disregarded. This includes the first £6,000 of any Criminal Injuries Compensation awards the young person might receive. Savings above £6,000 will be taken into account at the rate of £1 deduction per £250 unless the money is held in a trust fund or otherwise non-accessible or limited-access account.

Payment Methods

In order to support young people to make a successful financial transition to adulthood they should be assisted to open bank accounts and, where possible, all allowances should be paid via BACS into their bank account.

Under the universal credit system being fully implemented by November 2017, young people will receive monthly payments which will combine JSA/ISA and HB into one payment. In preparation for this SW and LCPA's will assist young people to develop the skills to manage for longer periods of time between payments. Suggested frequency of payments:

  • 16 years - weekly;
  • 17 years - fortnightly payments;
  • 17.5 years - monthly payments.

In certain circumstances young people may require additional assistance with managing allowances and may need their allowances to be paid in the form of a cash payment or prepaid card.

In extreme situations PAs may need to shop with individual young people and/or provide allowances in kind. In these situations the young person’s pathway plan should set out how long these arrangements may need to remain in place and what goals and milestones need to be achieved for the management of the allowance to be transferred to the young person.

'In more difficult circumstances a responsible corporate parent would not be punitive with a young person but would want to ensure they had all their needs met and may, temporarily, apply consequences such as loss of incentives and provide food rather than money if the maintenance allowance was being abused. In extreme circumstances allowances may need to be temporarily withdrawn if they were being abused excessively'. Vol 3 Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers.

8. Emergency Assistance

  1. 5 weekly payments of JSA/ISA covered by the Leaving Care Service post 18yrs to cover delay in payments due to sign on processing if necessary. Any payments of allowance post this are to be as a loan to the young person and repaid when benefits lump sum payment is received. A payment plan/agreement must be set up with the young person if money is given as a loan;
  2. In the first instance, where ever possible utilities top ups and food parcels to be undertaken rather than cash provision to young people in order to ensure that essentials are provided. Any emergency payments will be made from the Support Fund money received into budgets from 2014 and allocated to cost centre code 40600;
  3. Hardship grants/short term advances to be applied from DWP after the 2nd sanction in the hope that we will have undertaken an intense piece of work after the 1st sanction to avoid the second one. This is a 60% of full amount payment which will need paying back to DWP;
  4. Winter fuel allowance: If temperature falls below 0 degrees for 7 days in a row between 1 November and March 31st then £25 for each of the 7 day period will be given. This will be as a top up to utility provider;
  5. Where emergency payments become relied upon, the pathway plan will need to be reviewed to set out the support necessary to help develop a young person’s financial capability skills;
  6. For Relevant y/p: In extreme situations PAs may need to shop with individual young people and/or provide allowances in kind. In these situations the young person’s pathway plan should set out how long these arrangements may need to remain in place and what goals and milestones need to be achieved for the management of the allowance to be transferred to the young person.

9. Other Grants Available

City of Oxfordshire Charity for help towards educational costs, sickness help and general housing grant help.

City of Oxford Charity,
The Office,
Stones Court,
St Clements,
Oxford,
OX4 1AP.

The Prisoner Funder Directory give information on varies grants and initiatives available to vulnerable people.

10. Emergency Food Provision

Food Banks

West Oxfordshire Food Bank: 07557 979 384.

North Oxfordshire Community Food Bank: 07929721172.

Community Emergency Food bank (C.E.F oxford city): 01993 810 622.

Banbury Food bank The Peoples Church: 01295 661 304.

Bicester Food Bank: 01869 357181.

11. Care Leavers Returning Home Under 18years

Young people who return to live with parent(s) will move onto the ‘living at home’ financial package within two weeks of returning home. The ‘living at home’ package will support the young person under 18’s family household with the equivalent of subsistence benefits of £57.35 per week. This will be split to ensure that the parent(s) receive ‘keep’ for the young person of £30 per week paid directly to the parent(s). The remaining £27.35 will be paid to the young person. These payments will cease on transition to benefits at age 18.

The ‘living at home’ package does not support rent costs however it does support with EET.

Once a young person has been living at home for six months, the pathway plan review will assess the success of the placement and its suitability as a permanent arrangement. If it is assessed that the placement is suitable as a permanent arrangement, the young person will be transferred to ‘qualifying’ status. It is not intended that this transfer will represent a change in financial support as the young person will already be on the ‘living at home’ financial package. If this placement breaks down before the young person turns 18 they will revert to Relevant status.

12. UASC Turns 18 Years whilst still an Asylum Seeker awaiting an Initial Decision

Former Relevant UASC care leavers who turn 18yrs and have not received an initial decision on their asylum application would normally (if not supported by LA) be able to access support to the equivalent of S95 Asylum Support Rates (£36.62 pw) however in light of the Judgement R v SSHD EWHC 1033 (April 14) we will continue to pay JSA equivalent rate (£57.90 pw) until a decision is made. Other needs will be assessed within the pathway planning process and supported under the former relevant finance policy.

Lone parents: Note that asylum seekers provided with accommodation will not have to pay for utilities, whereas people receiving Income Support would normally be expected to, therefore lone parents will be paid at the standard adult JSA rate with healthy start vouchers.

The equivalent of healthy start vouchers will also be paid whilst awaiting a determination. This is to be spent on milk, plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables (fruit and vegetables with nothing added), or infant formula milk.

Pregnant women get one Healthy Start voucher a week worth £3.10.

Babies under the age of one get two vouchers a week worth a total of £6.20.

Children aged over one and under four get one voucher a week worth £3.10.

Health costs: HC1 form should be completed for health care.

13. UASC Becomes ARE

Young people who become ARE and are Human Rights Assessed as having a barrier to return to their country of origin will receive support. This support can be granted whilst an Assisted/Voluntary Return Package is arranged, until the barrier to return is removed, until 21yrs or until returned to their country of origin whichever comes first.

Allowance: £35.30 pw (Matched to NASS S4 levels for All Appeal Rights Exhausted Asylum Seekers) where determined needed by Human Rights Assessment. This money pays for essential toiletries, food and entertainment.

Clothing: £150 per year, assessed within Pathway Planning.

Basic requirements are:

  • Winter coat;
  • Hat, gloves, scarf;
  • Waterproof shoes;
  • A second pair of shoes, probably trainers;
  • Socks, pj's and underpants;
  • Three jumpers/hoodies;
  • Three pairs of jeans/trousers/leggings;
  • Five T-shirts;
  • Two shirts/long-sleeved T-shirts.

Maternity grant of £250 (matches S4 Asylum support amount) Available from 8 weeks before the ‘due date’.

Pregnant mother can receive and extra payment of £3 per week.

Parent with child under 3 yrs can receive an extra £5 per week.

Leisure: ARE y/p are encouraged to attend leisure activities that are provided by Asylum Welcome and other free community activities.