‘Eligible’ vs ‘Relevant’ care leavers

The Leaving Care Act created legal categories of young people.

‘Eligible’ young people are 16-17 who are still in care and have been in care for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14.  Because they are looked after by the Council, the law expects that their financial support will be met by the Council.  This means they normally can’t get Income Support, Housing Benefit, and JSA whilst they are under 18.

‘Relevant’ young people are 16-17 who have previously been Looked After for 13 weeks (including some time as a 16-17 year old), but who now have left care. There are a lot of reasons why someone might be a relevant care leaver.  For example, they might have been detained in a secure children’s home and released after serving their sentence.  Or they might have left care for different reasons.

Because there might be problems with ‘Relevant’ young people returning to their birth family, they are deemed to need the support of the Council in the same way ‘Eligible’ young people are.   As such, they have their maintenance and accommodation costs paid by the Council in the same way they .  Like ‘Eligible’ young people, they normally can’t get Income Support, Housing Benefit or Allowance, and JSA whilst they are under 18.


If a young person is

  • A lone parent
  • A single person looking after foster children
  • Incapable of work
  • A disabled worker
  • A disabled or deaf student
  • Registered Blind
  • Appealing against a decision that they are not incapable of work
  • In relevant education; severely mentally or physically disabled and unlikely to obtain employment within the next twelve months
  • In education and a lone parent of a child that is not their biological child, but for whom they are responsible and they treat as a normal member of their household.

then they qualify for Income Support, Housing Benefit or Allowance, and JSA.  Your Leaving Care Worker will be able to help you figure this out if you need this sort of support and will help you with the application.

What this all means when it comes to support:

  • if you are living in your own place and are actively seeking education, training or employment, you will get the Independent Living Allowance.
  • the support of a Leaving Care Worker who will help you set goals, enter education, apprenticeship or employment, and learn independent living skills.
  • a Pathway Plan to lay out the sort of support you will receive from the Leaving Care Service, along with regular assessments of the plan to make sure it still is relevant for you.
  • Pay for your accommodation and help you find a suitable place to live
  • Pay for your basic living expenses
  • Visit you regularly to make sure you are OK

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