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What financial support can I expect to receive?

Subsistence (for 16 and 17 year olds only)

If you’re living semi-independently you aren’t entitled to claim benefits, we’ll provide you with a subsistence payment to cover your day to day living costs. If you’re struggling to budget your money, this may be issued in a part cash and food voucher payment to ensure you have enough money for food.

The current rate from 1 April 2017 is £57.90 (equivalent to the current rate for income support). Young people who are in paid training will receive the equivalent or higher allowance from their training provider.

Initial benefits claim

Once you turn 18, you need to claim income support, job seekers allowance, employment support allowance or universal credit.

The Leaving Care Service will provide you with up to 4 weeks subsistence payments to assist you while you’re waiting for your initial benefits claim to be processed. Your social worker will be able to provide you with further information about this. You’ll also need to claim Housing Benefit to cover your rent.


If you’re in education or training you’ll be given financial assistance with travel costs during term-time only to cover up to zone 1-6 or the equivalent based on an assessment of need.

You’ll need to have a current education contract signed by the Virtual School and apply for a student Oyster Card if eligible. If you have to attend university or college during the holidays, any additional support for fares will be based on an assessment of need and outlined in your pathway plan.

Additionally we’ll assist with some fares for family contact, leisure and cultural needs. This will also be based on an assessment of need and outlined in your pathway plan.

Clothing allowance

If you’re aged 16 or 17 and in semi-independence you’ll be given a clothing allowance payable in instalments, £75 every 3 months, so £300 per year.

Birthday payments

Money for gifts and a contribution towards the cost of celebrations will be paid to you each year until your 21st birthday.

You’ll only receive this allowance if you remain in contact with us. If you’re in foster care, your carer will buy you a birthday present for your 17th and 18th birthdays.

  • £75 for your 17th birthday (semi-independence)
  • £100 for your 18th (semi-independence)
  • £100 for 19th and 20th birthdays
  • £150 for your 21st birthday

Social and leisure activities

You’ll be encouraged and assisted to take part in social and leisure activities. If you’re aged 16 or 17 you’ll be eligible to apply for a local leisure card.

If you live outside Hackney, your social worker will assist in obtaining one from the resident authority.

Depending on an assessment of need, we may pay for a hobby or fee for a club, if the leisure card is not available, provided you can demonstrate commitment to keeping it up.

Cost of key documents

It is important that all young people have a photographic form of identification (eg passport or driving licence) and their birth certificate when they leave care. You’ll usually need formal identification of some kind, often a passport or driving licence, as well as your National Insurance Number, to start work with an employer, to claim benefits, to set up a bank account, to prove you are who you say you are and to get into a pub, club, etc.

When you leave care to prepare for independence, you should already have a birth certificate as well as a renewed passport or a provisional driving licence. If you did not have a formal type of photographic identification when you left care, we will pay for the cost of the purchase of 1 passport and 1 birth certificate up to the age of 21. Based on an assessment, payment for a driving licence will be considered if it is necessary for your employment.

If you’re an unaccompanied young person and there are immigration issues to be resolved, your social worker will help you get the right documentation required to prove you are who you say you are.

If you’ve lived here for more than 7 years but are not British or a European National, we’ll pay for you to be naturalised providing this is applied for in good time prior to your 18th birthday.

Please note that this applies only if you have no settled status when you are 16 or 17 years old. You’ll need to discuss this with your social worker. In some cases, if you are a European National, we’ll assist you with purchasing a residence card.


You must keep all your documents safe as you will be responsible for paying for any replacements.

Support in pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and aged 16 or 17 years old we’ll pay a one-off maternity grant 11 weeks before the birth of the baby. The current amount is £150 per baby.

Your social worker or midwife will support you to claim a grant of £500 from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you are eligible for one. This is to buy essential items you need for when your baby is born.

Your social worker may also be able to offer support to access funding from other organisations for you and your baby.

Council tax exemption scheme

Any care leaver, who has previously been in Hackney’s care, aged between 18 and 25, who lives in the borough and is liable to pay council tax, will be able to apply for a council tax reduction up to their 25th birthday.

Hackney care leavers should first apply for a ‘discretionary reduction’, which will leave an outstanding council tax amount, which the Council will then reduce to nil (which means the care leaver will not owe the Council any council tax money).

Financial support for transition between benefits and employment

If you’re worried about the gap in receiving money when you are moving from benefits to employment, let your social worker know and they will help you contact the Drive Forward Foundation, who work closely with the Council to support care leavers.

They may be able to offer financial support until you receive your first salary.

Setting up home allowance

When you leave care and are assessed as being ready to live independently, you’ll be eligible for a setting up home allowance.

If you need it, you could receive up to £2,000. The allowance is accessed when you are assessed as needing it. This allowance is to provide you with sufficient furniture or equipment when moving into independent permanent housing and will be written into your pathway plan. Payments will be made directly to the supplier.

The setting up home allowance will only be used to buy essential items for permanent accommodation so you need to be assessed as ready to live independently by your 21st birthday, but it can be accessed up until your 25th birthday if necessary.

In some cases you may also be able to use the money as a deposit to rent private accommodation. You’ll need to discuss this with your social worker.

Please consider the following when spending your allowance:

  • buy second-hand or used goods (but not second-hand electrical items). Furniture and soft furnishings can be cheaper and of better quality than many new items when bought second-hand
  • look at buying items on special offer or waiting for sales to get bigger discounts
  • plan ahead, for example, by buying some items such as towels, bedding, crockery etc while you’re still in care. You could use your short-term savings for this
  • use some of your savings, and any other grants available to you, to help towards some of these costs


  • when most young people leave home to live independently they can’t always afford everything they need straight away and can’t always afford everything new
  • your savings are there for you to use in your transition to independence and into later adulthood

More information and contacts

Hackney Children and Families Service

General Enquiries: 020 8356 3000 (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday – except bank holidays)

Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY

Benefits information


The latest news and information on benefits will be available on this national website.

You can search for individual benefits and use the ‘benefits calculator’ interactive tool that can help you find out what benefits you may be entitled to.


Freephone: 0808 802 2000 (9am to 8pm Monday to Friday)

Helps people access the money available to them through welfare benefits, grants and other help.

National Care Advisory Service (NCAS)


The latest news and information on all issues relating to transitions from care and care leavers are available of the NCAS website.

Page updated on: 16 August 2019