What Support can I get as a Care Experienced Apprentice?
By saying care experienced we are referring to anyone who has been or is currently in care or from a looked after background at any stage of their life, no matter how short, including adopted children who were previously looked after.
If you are care experienced, you may be able to access extra support to help you complete your apprenticeship.
Care Leaver Bursary
There is a bursary available for eligible care leavers (including those still in care) to support you financially during your apprenticeship. This is £1,000 if you started your apprenticeship before 1 August 2023, or £3,000 if you started your apprenticeship on or after 1 August 2023. The bursary is to help you financially during the first year of your apprenticeship.
Your training provider and employer may also receive additional funding to support you to complete your apprenticeship.
Am I eligible for the apprenticeships care leaver bursary?
To be eligible for the care leavers’ bursary you must:
- be aged under 25 at the time you start your apprenticeship,
- not have received the care leavers’ bursary before and
- be either an eligible child, a relevant child or a former relevant child (definitions below).
You are an ‘eligible child’ if you:
- are 16 or 17 years old,
- have been looked after by a UK Local Authority or Health and Social Care Trust for a period of at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and
- are still looked after by a UK Local Authority or Health and Social Care Trust.
You are a ‘relevant child’ if you:
- are 16 or 17 years old,
- have left care within the UK after your 16th birthday and
- were an eligible child before leaving care.
Former relevant child
You are a ‘former relevant child’ if you are under the age of 25 and were either an eligible or a relevant child before turning 18.
If you are unsure of your leaving care status, you should speak to your Local Authority appointed Personal Adviser or Social Worker.
How do I claim the apprenticeships care leavers’ bursary?
If you are eligible and wish to receive the bursary, you will need to inform your training provider. This is because the bursary is claimed by your training provider, who then passes the money on to you. You do not need to provide any details or explanation about your care experience – just that you are a care leaver.
Your training provider will require written confirmation from the Local Authority where you were in care to verify that you are eligible. This can be a signed letter or an email. If you are still in contact with your Personal Advisor, you can ask them to provide this. Otherwise, you should contact your Local Authority Leaving Care Team and explain that you need a letter to confirm you are a care leaver. You can find the contact details for this team on your Local Authority website by searching online, for example, “Manchester Council care leavers”.
Ideally, you should tell your provider you want to claim the bursary when you start your apprenticeship, before or during sign up, but you can still receive the bursary if you inform them later in your apprenticeship. You cannot claim the bursary after you have completed or left your apprenticeship.
Your training provider should also ask whether you are happy for your employer to be made aware that you are a care leaver. This is because, if you are aged 19 – 25 and eligible for the bursary, your training provider and (if you agree) your employer will receive an extra £1,000 in funding to support you.
How and when will the bursary be paid?
For those who start an apprenticeship before 1 August 2023, the government will pay the £1,000 bursary to your training provider once you have been on your apprenticeship for 60 days. The training provider will pass this payment on to you. You should receive the payment approximately three months after your start date.
For those who start an apprenticeship on or after 1 August 2023, the government will pay the bursary to your training provider in three instalments of £1,000 each. The training provider will pass each payment on to you if you are still undertaking your apprenticeship. You should receive the first payment approximately three months after your start date, the second approximately six months after your start date and the final payment by 12 months after your start date.
If you have not received any of your payments when you think you should have, speak to your training provider.
Agreeing to your training provider telling your employer about your care experience
If you would prefer this information is not shared with your employer, you will still receive the bursary. However, it is important to remember there may be benefits to making your employer aware of your circumstances as they can support you to help you complete your apprenticeship.
If you do agree for this information to be shared, it should by law be kept private and confidential under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation and should not be shared with your co-workers. If you have any concerns about who this information will be shared with you should speak to your training provider and/or employer.
What if I am not eligible for the apprenticeships care leavers’ bursary?
If you are care experienced but not eligible for the apprenticeships care leaver bursary, you can still speak to your training provider or employer about any support needs you may have.
You may be entitled to support from your Local Authority, such as a grant to help you to access education, work and training. This offer varies by Local Authority, so you should contact the Local Authority where you were in care to find out what is available to you.
What other financial support can I get as an apprentice?
An apprenticeship is a paid job, and you will be paid at least the National Minimum Wage Apprentice Rate – though most employers pay their apprentices more than this. For more information on what pay you should receive as an apprentice see here National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
There are various discount cards for apprentices, such as NUS Apprentice extra and Apprentice Oyster photocard - Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk). There is an initial cost for these discount cards, so it is worth checking what discounts they will give you and how much you currently spend on those products or services before purchasing a discount card, to make sure it’s worth the spend.
Am I entitled to benefits whilst doing an apprenticeship?
You may be entitled to benefits whilst doing an apprenticeship – this depends on your circumstances and how much you earn. Turn2us have a guide to benefits for care leavers which you can read here Care Leavers and Benefits - Turn2us.
If you receive the apprenticeships care leavers’ bursary, this is counted as “capital” (savings), rather than “income”, so will not affect any benefits entitlement as long as your total savings are under £6,000.
What other support can I get?
- Local authorities have a legal duty to support care leavers up to the age of 25. They may be able to support you with travel expenses, work clothes or towards the costs of documentation needed for your job e.g. a passport. You can find more information on the support available to care leavers by visiting Care Leaver FAQs - Care Leaver Covenant (mycovenant.org.uk), or speak to your Personal Advisor about what is available in your area.
- The Care Experienced Apprentice Network is a place where care experienced individuals who are on an apprenticeship or thinking about starting an apprenticeship can come together and network. You can find out more about the network and how to join here Connect and Network with other Apprentices – Apprentice Support Centre (apprenticeships.gov.uk)
- If you are struggling with your mental health or wellbeing you can get support from the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service: Mental health support for people at work | Able Futures Mental Health Support Service (able-futures.co.uk)
- If you have a learning difficulty or a disability your training provider and employer may be able to put some extra support and assistance in place to help you complete your apprenticeship. You can find out more about support for learning difficulties or disabilities here Support for Apprentices with a Learning Difficulty or Disability – Apprentice Support Centre (apprenticeships.gov.uk)
Are you concerned you are not getting the support you need?
If you feel you are not getting the support you need or are eligible for, it’s important that you raise this.
Your line manager is there to support you to develop and progress. If you have any questions, concerns or issues with your employment, or training or the support you need, your line manager should be someone you can discuss this with.
Your line manager will also be able to support you to raise any concerns you have with your training provider. It should be possible to resolve most issues however if they cannot be resolved you may need to make a formal complaint and follow the complaints process which will be published on the training provider’s website.
If your concern is related to your employer, speak to your training provider who should be able to offer support and make sure you are aware of how to raise issues, concerns, or complaints.
You can also contact the helpline (see details below) who can provide additional advice and guidance.
Need further help or support?
Contact the Apprenticeship helpline for advice and guidance.
Telephone: 0800 0150 400
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm