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Financial support for care leavers

When you leave care you may be able to get some financial support to help you live on your own, but what you get will depend on your own specific circumstances.

See our definitions of care leavers if you don't know what a 'relevant' or 'former relevant' child is.

Managing your money can be challenging when it’s not something you’ve experienced before, so your personal advisor will help you to develop a budget plan. Things you will be doing for the first time include:

  • Paying rent, Council Tax, energy bills and TV/Broadband
  • Buying your own food, clothes and toiletries
  • Paying for transport
  • Choosing and buying furniture for your home
  • Washing your clothes and cleaning your home
  • Funding your own hobbies (sports, clubs etc.) and entertainment (cinema, meeting friends, eating out).
Personal advisors

Subsistence allowance (16 - 17 year olds)

If you are living semi-independently (not in foster care or residential) you are not entitled to claim benefits so we provide you with a subsistence allowance to cover your daily living costs.

This allowance is the equivalent to income support rates. If you are in paid training, you will be paid the same or a higher allowance by your training provider.

Whilst you are receiving the allowance, subject to an assessment, you can receive a clothing grant up to £100.

Welfare benefits claim

Once you are aged 18 you will need to claim Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Universal credit and Housing Benefit.

The Supporting Independence Team will continue to pay you the Subsistence Allowance until your benefit claim is processed. Your Personal Advisor will assist you to make any claims that you are eligible for.

The Council will provide you financial support or a loan (depending on your circumstance) when you get a job. This will apply if there is a gap between your benefits payment ending and you receiving your first wage payment.

We will help you to apply for PIP (Personal Independence Payments) if you have a disability or health condition that means you're eligible.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children will receive the same levels of financial support as all other children and young people in the care of Cheshire West and Chester Council. Maintenance and accommodation support may be extended beyond the 18th birthday if, due to their emigration status, the young person cannot access universal benefit support.

Benefits advice

The Welfare Advice Service can offer benefit advice over the telephone or in your own home. Please click the link below for further information.

Department of Work and Pensions in Cheshire West

The Supporting Independence team work closely with the Department of Work and Pensions in Cheshire West and they can offer advice and support to you before your 18th birthday to explain what benefits you may be entitled to and how you can make a claim. Please contact your PA if you would like to access this support.

Benefits visiting and welfare advice service

Birthday Allowance

All relevant, and former relevant, young people will receive a birthday card and £215.74 Birthday Grant from the Supporting Independence Team on their 16th,17th, 18th and 21st birthdays.

This can be paid direct to you as a lump sum or paid in instalments throughout the year (1 April – 31 March).

For relevant care leavers not engaging with actions in the Pathway Plan, the Supporting Independence Team Services provides a birthday present to the value of £50.

All care leavers aged 22 to 25 will receive a birthday card and £20 voucher.

Christmas/festival allowance

All relevant and former relevant young people will receive a grant at the time of a significant religious festival of their choice, eg. Christmas (Christian), Urdu (Muslim), The Birthday of Guru Nanak (Sikh), Hanukkah (Jewish) or Diwali (Hindu) though you may identify with another.

The Pathway Plan should identify which festival you wish to celebrate and ensure that grants are provided in good time and the details recorded accordingly.

The total festival allowance is £215.74. This amount can be paid direct to you as a lump sum or paid in instalments throughout the year (1 April – 31 March).

For relevant care leavers not engaging with actions in the Pathway Plan, the Supporting Independence Team Services will purchase a festival gift and card to the value of £50.

Holiday allowance

Relevant care leavers engaging with their pathway plan can request financial support to contribute to the overall cost of a holiday. If a contribution is agreed, the amount can be paid directly as a lump sum, or paid in instalments throughout the year (1 April – 31 March).

Relevant care leavers not engaging with their Pathway Plan will not be considered able to apply for a holiday allowance.

Care leavers in hospital or custody

If a young person is on remand or serving a custodial sentence, they will be fully maintained within that establishment and so will not be entitled to a personal allowance.

Young people in custody may have the opportunity to earn a weekly allowance but, where this is not available to them, the Supporting Independence Team Service will consider paying the equivalent to the Education, Employment and Training (EET) incentive programme eg £10 per week.

Requests for priority payments for items such as clothing and educational equipment will be considered in line with current procedures for other care leavers.

Cost of key documents

It is important that you have your National Insurance Number and key documents – passport, birth certificate, driving licence as proof of identity. This will enable you to, for example, open a bank account, to claim benefit, to begin work, to get into pubs/clubs.

The Council will fund the cost of up to two key documents subject to an assessment.

Trust Fund

Children’s Services has a Trust Fund that offers a discretionary payment of up to £400-per-year to its children in care and care leavers. The Trust Fund was set up to provide children and young people with additional experiences and opportunities. Care leavers can apply for money to fund driving lessons, an interview outfit, equipment needed for a college course or apprentice, a laptop for university etc.

Share Foundation

Your Junior ISA (Individual Savings Account) - The Share Foundation

The Government have contributed £200 for each eligible looked after young person to open a Junior ISA. The Share Foundation, a registered charity, has been authorised by the government to set up and manage the Junior ISAs for all looked after children. The Share Foundation also raises funds which it contributes to the Junior ISAs that it manages.

What changes now I am 18?

When you become 18 you are entitled to access the funds. You can then choose, for example, whether to invest in a regular ISA or draw out the money. If you make no decision the Junior ISA will automatically become an adult ISA in your name.

What do I have to do to access my account?

You should contact your social worker or Personal Adviser at the Supporting Independence Team on, tel: 0208 770 6600 (admin), who will enable you to have direct contact with The Share Foundation.

We recommend that young people contact Share Foundation as soon as practical after they reach 18 as, without an instruction from you, the account will convert to a regular ISA automatically and can no longer be subject to active investment decisions on your behalf. It may, therefore, not be invested in the most advantageous way for you.

How can I see how much money is in the Junior ISA or how it is performing?

Regular Junior ISA valuations are sent to the local authority, and you can obtain a balance of the latest statement from them. Once you reach 18, a final valuation will be sent to the local authority, at which time you will need to take on the responsibility of managing your own account.

Can I get advice and support on how to understand my money better as part of the scheme?

Yes - a programme of financial education support is available to you. Materials for young people in care, as well as Local Authorities, Corporate Parents and carers have been developed by PFEG and are available via the Share Foundation website:

Share foundation

Or the PFEG (Personal Finance Education Group) now part of Young Enterprise and renamed Young Money website:


Telephone support is also available to advise you on further educational materials that will help you learn how to manage your money, including your Junior ISA.

  • Telephone: 01296 310400

Is it possible to contact the Share Foundation and get further information?

Further information on the scheme and copies of all materials can be obtained from The Share Foundation website or by calling the number below. (General information only, until you have been introduced by the Local Authority).

Alternatively you can call: 01296 310400 or email:

Furniture Storage

Please speak to your Social Worker or PA and we will support you to access suitable storage for your belongings for longer periods if needed.

Help Team and Welfare Visiting Team

These Council teams will assist you with;

  • work advice
  • benefit advice
  • debt advice
  • support to access other public services.

Cost of Living support

If you are worried about the rising cost of living, there is a range of help, information and support available on the Council Cost of Living Support page; We have summarised some of these supports below.

Cost of living support

HELP Scheme

The HELP Scheme offers payments to people in need – they can provide emergency funding in a crisis. Your PA can support you to apply for a one-off payment if needed.

Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP)


There are foodbanks across the borough which can offer food parcels in an emergency. Your PA must issue you with a foodbank voucher to access this support from West and Mid Cheshire foodbanks, but the Welcome Network can direct you to foodbanks and community centres where a referral is not needed. Some of these centres also offer support around budgeting, paying utility bills and cooking classes. You can find your closest foodbank using the links below.

Locations - West Cheshire FoodbankMid Cheshire FoodbankThe Welcome Network

Warm, Welcoming Spaces

The Council is working with many services to offer all people living in the borough access to Warm, Welcoming Spaces. These spaces are free to access, during stated opening times, and guarantee a warm welcome.

Warm, Welcoming Spaces

Transport Cards

A bus pass is available for care leavers between the ages of 18 to 21 that provides free, anytime bus travel within the borough of Cheshire West and Chester on most local bus services. You will need to provide your personal details and a photograph to access the pass. To apply, please contact your PA.


If you are struggling to access technology, for example a laptop or mobile phone, we can support with this. Please speak to your PA for more information.

Student Discounts

If you are in education and between the ages of 16 - 25, your PA can provide you with a TOTUM student discount card. The wide range of discounts offered can be explored by clicking the link below.

TOTUM - The #1 UK Student Discount Card and App