Children in care could benefit to the tune of nearly £1,600 from Surrey County Council as part of plans to double their savings and put them on a sound financial footing for adult life.
Under the proposal, cash young people pay into a savings account* will be matched by the county council in what is believed to be the first scheme of its kind in the country.
Between the ages of 12 and 18, annual savings of up to £260 will be bolstered by the council depositing the same amount.
It would mean that a young person putting aside £260 each year would save £1,560, which swells to £3,120 with the council’s contribution. Interest would be paid on top of that.
The aim of the proposed scheme is to give some of Surrey’s most vulnerable children advice about handling their finances and improve their prospects when they grow up.
It has personal importance for Surrey County Council leader David Hodge, who was brought up in a Dublin orphanage.
Mr Hodge said: “I know all about the challenges of growing up in care and moving into the adult world can be a daunting prospect. This scheme will make all the difference to young people preparing to stand on their own two feet.”
Mary Angell, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “The scheme aims to give children in care the incentive to start life as adults on a sound financial footing with the money helping to pay for things they need, such as a deposit for a home or driving lessons.
“It will also help them develop the personal finance skills, such as using credit or debit cards, sorting out a mobile phone contract or getting to grips with interest rates, that they will need when they become independent.”
Children under the council’s care would not be able to touch the money until their 18th birthday.
The planned scheme will be considered at a meeting of the county council’s Cabinet on Tuesday (20 December) and will start on 1 April next year if given the go-ahead.
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Notes for editors
* The government’s junior Individual Savings Account (ISA) for looked after children.
Under the scheme, each child in care will submit evidence of savings at the end of each financial year. They will also get help from a social worker or foster carer.
There are around 750 children in the council’s care at any one time.
Surrey’s children’s service was rated as ‘performing well’ in last month’s annual report from Ofsted.