Young People's Zone

I am a Former Relevant Child

CAN I GET HELP IF I CAN’T PAY MY RENT OR BILLS?

Living on your own for the first time can be tough. It can be difficult to manage your money and to keep on top of paying your bills and rent.

Now that you are 18, you are expected to manage paying your rent and bills yourself. You might do this through working, or through claiming benefits or by using your student loan if you are studying.

Although you are expected to manage things yourself, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask Children’s Services for some help and support. Before you moved in to your own place, your Personal Advisor (PA) (see The Name GameBecome) should have helped you plan how you were going to manage your money. They may have even agreed to pay for some things to help you out. This should all be written in your Pathway Plan (see Pathway to Success, Become). If things are becoming difficult, you can refer to your Pathway Plan to see how Children’s Services said they would help you.

Whatever happens, Children’s Services should try and help you sort everything out in the same way that a parent would. This doesn’t mean they have to pay your rent and bills or cover any debts but they should help you find other solutions. For example, they could help you work out a new budget so you can get back on track. Or they could help you work out a repayment plan for any debts or outstanding bills. They should also help you speak to your landlord or other people to explain what the problem is and make sure that you don’t get into trouble.

The most important thing is to try and get the situation sorted out as quickly as possible. If you get evicted (thrown out) because you haven’t paid your rent, then you could be found “intentionally homeless”. This is really not good and could stop you getting anywhere to stay in the future. It can be hard to admit when things have gone wrong, but it is really important to ask for help as quickly as possible.

What can I do?

Be Prepared
If you have got into difficulties with money, it is important to work out how much money you have coming in and exactly the amount of money you owe, to who and when it needs to be paid by. It can seem daunting and that’s why lots of people ignore problems until they get really bad but if you work out where the problem is, it’s the first step to finding a solution.

The Citizen’s Advice website has lots of helpful tips on managing debt.

Talk to people
There are lots of people that you can talk to in order to try and sort this out:

  • Your PA: Your PA must stay in touch with you (the part of the law that says this is Section 23C(2) Children Act 1989) and be available to help you if you have any problems. If you are worried about money, contact them and ask them if they can help you find a solution.

    You can ask for Children’s Services to help you with some of the things that you have to pay but there is no guarantee they will agree. Whether they agree to help financially or not will depend on what you are asking for, whether this problem has happened before (if the same thing keeps on happening, they are less likely to say yes) and how serious the situation is.

    Whether they help you financially or not, they should help you try and find a way out of the problem. This might be through budgeting, repayment plans, accessing other loans or financial help.

  • Citizens Advice: Lots of people have problems with money – you are not alone. You can go into your local branch of Citizens Advice or call their Debt Advice line on 0300 330 1313.
     
  • Your landlord or others you owe money to: Most organizations understand that sometimes people get into difficulties. If you call and explain your situation they may allow you to organise some sort of repayment plan.

Making a Complaint
It may not be possible to make a complaint to try and force your Children’s Services to pay your rent or bills. The law doesn’t say that they must do this and you are expected to be responsible for your finances once you are living on your own.

You might want to complain, however, if you feel that Children’s Services have somehow contributed to your situation. For example, if you think that:

  • Children’s Services didn’t prepare you enough to manage on your own or didn’t keep to the agreements they made to support you when you moved to your own place
  • Children’s Services aren’t trying to help you sort out the problem even though you have asked.

If you do want to make a complaint, please click here.

Get Some Help
If you still feel that no-one is listening, you can contact your local advocacy service to get more advice on your rights. You can find your local advocacy service by clicking here.

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