Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.15 Pocket Money and Savings for Looked After Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter seeks to set out the expectations the Local Authority has of foster carers in respect of pocket money for the children that they are looking after and saving for their future.


Contents

  1. The Principles Guiding Pocket Money for Children and Young People
  2. Expectations of Foster Carers Regarding Pocket Money
  3. Pocket Money Guidelines
  4. Savings


1.The Principles Guiding Pocket Money for Children and Young People

Having pocket money is good for children and young people. It gives them a sense of independence and develops their skills in deciding what to buy and what it costs. Receiving pocket money helps children and young people understand the value of money, and develop budgeting skills essential for independent life. Pocket money is regularly received by children in families all over the country and having pocket money increases the normalisation of looked after children, and helps decrease their sense of difference from other children


2. Expectations of Foster Carers Regarding Pocket Money

Pocket money should be given to children and young people for their own use and not to pay for regular entertainment, clothes or personal toiletries. This is not to say they cannot spend their pocket money on these items if they choose to do so over and above what foster carers would normally allocate from their foster care allowances.

Carers are expected to encourage older children and young people to open a personal savings account to help them manage their pocket money and other money given directly to them for birthdays and festivals. It would assist them in saving for items they wish to buy.

There should be flexibility about how pocket money is paid and be compatible with other children living in the home, taking into account the age and capacity of the child.

Primary school aged children would be expected to be paid their pocket money weekly, preferably on a set day. Older children may prefer to receive their pocket money and any other allowances given to them for personal toiletries and entertainment, monthly and paid into their personal savings account. This will depend on their maturity and should be discussed with them and their social worker.

The amount of pocket money must be clarified at the start of a placement and discussed at the placement agreement meeting. The amount arrived at must be compatible with the foster carers’ birth children still living in the home and other foster children. The amount of pocket money paid to close personal friends can also be considered if it is appropriate. Although we have suggested the minimum amounts for each age, setting the appropriate level should be regularly reviewed with the child’s social worker and the carers’ supervising social worker. If the child or young person is dissatisfied with the amount he or she is allocated it should be made clear how they can raise this issue and with whom.

It is recommended that an increase in pocket money is linked to the child or young person’s birthday to mark their increasing age.

There can be an expectation that some contribution to family living be given by the child or young person in exchange for their pocket money such as light household chores and top ups can be earned for additional chores like other families. This is particularly important in long term placements where the child will be living as a child of the family. This will need to be discussed with the foster carers’ supervising social worker and the child’s social worker.

The rate of pocket money paid to young people should be realistic so that a smoother transition to independent living is made. A young person needs to develop budgeting skills as early as possible and the ability to live within the allowances paid to them when they become independent. This process should start in early adolescence so that false expectations of how far money will go are not built up. The rate of pocket money and other allowances paid to encourage independent living must be discussed with the young person’s social worker and the foster carers’ supervising social worker.

Withholding pocket money is not an acceptable sanction for children and young people and alternative acceptable sanctions should be used.

When a child or young person goes into respite care there is an expectation that the respite carer will pay the child or young person’s pocket money. If the amount is paid monthly into a savings account for a young person then some discussion will need to occur as to who is responsible for payment or part payment.


3. Pocket Money Guidelines

It is not expected that pocket money is paid to children under the age of five. They can have occasional treats instead of pocket money. The following table is a guide to the minimum amounts each child or young person should receive. There is a jump when a child reaches secondary school age at 11 years old to take account of the child’s increasing maturity.

Age Weekly Minimum Amount Comments
Under 5 years   Occasional treats
5 years £1.00  
6 years £1.50  

7 years

£2.00  
8 years £2.50  
9 years £3.00  
10 years £3.50  
11 years £5.00  
12 years £5.50  
13 years £7.00  
14 years £8.50  
15 years £10.00  
16 years £10.00  


4. Savings

Most families put aside a sum of money on a regular basis for their children’s future. Children in the care of the local authority would also benefit from money set aside for them, to enable them to start independent living with some savings.

It is expected that foster carers set aside, in a separate savings account from the child’s personal savings account,  and in the child or young person’s name,  the sum of £5 per week for each child under 11 years old and £10 per week for a child over 11 years old from their foster carers’ allowance. This will apply to all foster carers whether short term, long term or respite. The savings book for the child or young person must accompany the child on their move to different carers within the care system. The Authority expects IFA foster carers as well as our own carers to save for each child or young person.

If a child or young person goes into respite care some agreement should be reached by the foster carer, respite carer and their supervising social workers as to whom should be responsible for paying the savings for the child during the period of respite care.

The savings book will be kept by the foster carer securely and not given to the child. This money is for the child’s future and any use of the money before they leave the care system must be discussed with the foster carers’ supervising social worker and the child or young person’s social worker.

End