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3.13.5 Pocket Money and Allowances


This procedure applies to children placed in children’s homes and foster homes managed by the local authority, but the principles apply to the placement of all Looked After children. Therefore, where such children are placed with parents, relatives or friends or in placements not managed by the authority, the social worker must ensure these or other adequate procedures are applied.


  1. General  
  2. Principles - Pocket Money 
  3. Principles - Clothing and Other Allowances
  4. Special Arrangements

1. General

Arrangements must exist in all children’s homes and foster homes for the payment of pocket money and clothing or other allowances for children. The allowances excludes items such as essential toiletries, education-related expenses, dinner money for school meals or other food purchases.

The allowances must take account of the needs of children from different minority ethnic communities.

The arrangements should be set out in the Foster Care Agreement or the Placement Plan for individual children.

In the absence of such arrangements, the following must be adhered to.

2. Principles - Pocket Money

Each child should be given an amount of pocket money, usually weekly.

The giving of pocket money should be recorded and, preferably, signed for by the child.

Children should be encouraged to take full responsibility for their allowances and staff must assist them in budgeting and spending their money appropriately. Children should be supported to open and maintain bank accounts and, if possible, their pocket money and other allowances should be paid into these accounts.

If there are concerns about the manner in which children are spending their money or allowances, these concerns should be discussed with the child and the child's social worker. If there is a serious risk, the arrangements for giving money to the child may have to be restricted, but the child’s social worker should make such a decision.

The payment of pocket money may be delayed if a child's behaviour at the time payment is due is such that any message of rewarding it is to be strenuously avoided. Payment may be delayed for a time agreed in which the child is required to demonstrate an improvement in behaviour. The child will not "lose" the money - it must be held for them.

Deductions from pocket money may not be made for fines or sanctions except for reparation of malicious damage or to replace misappropriated goods for which the child is responsible or to pay fines determined by a Court. 

If the Court imposes such deductions or fines, not more than two thirds of a child’s pocket money may be taken in any week.

See also Behaviour Management, Discipline/Sanctions and Physical Intervention Procedure.

3. Principles - Clothing and Other Allowances

Children should be informed what allowances or financial arrangements exist for the purchase of clothing, personal requisites (such as hair care products), birthdays and religious festivals. 

Over time, depending on their age and level of understanding, they should be given freedom and responsibility to budget for and spend allowances for their clothing and personal requisites, preferably as part of a plan to prepare for their independence.

Even if children are not allowed to purchase clothing and other personal requisites unless accompanied by staff/carers, they should be involved in decision making and exercise choice, through normal shopping arrangements. 

The arrangements for accessing and spending clothing and other allowances should be recorded. 

Deductions from clothing or other allowances should not normally be made as a sanction or to pay for fines imposed by the Court.

4. Special Arrangements

If the social worker and team manager/assistant team manager believe that any special payment is necessary or justified, for example:

  • A clothing grant, for example for a new school uniform;
  • A special payment to support the child’s hobbies or sports activities;
  • A special payment to support the child in developing useful skills, e.g. driving lessons, purchase of tools.

The social worker should make a written application to the relevant Service Manager explaining the reason for the request.