Pocket money

Guiding principles underpinning pocket money and savings for children and young people

Children in care in Brighton and Hove are entitled to pocket money according to the following guidelines. .

There needs to be a considerable degree of flexibility and lack of rigidity whilst maintaining a sense of fairness and consistency, both between foster chioldren and between foster children and the carers' birth and adopted children.

The following principles should guide the payment of pocket money to looked after children and young people:

  • Having pocket money is good for the child/young person. It gives a sense of independence and a measure of choice in making decisions about how the money is spent
  • Receiving pocket money helps children understand the value of money and is the start of developing budgeting skills
  • The amount to be paid must be clarified at the outset of a placement and addressed within the Placement Plan at the Placement Planning Meeting.
  • The rate of pocket money paid should be kept under review by all concerned. Setting the appropriate level is dependent on close communication between the carer, child/young person and their social worker and your supervising social worker. Disputes over pocket money should be dealt with by informal discussion within the foster home in the first instance. If a child/young person is not happy with amount paid, it should be clear how they can raise their dissatisfaction.
  • Setting fixed amounts of pocket money is problematic and consideration must be given to individual circumstances of children in care and foster families. The amounts suggested below are minimum sums.
  • In principle children in care and the foster carer’s birth children of the same age should get the same weekly pocket money and it would be unfair if foster children received either more or less than the foster carer’s own children
  • An increase pocket money by a fixed amount at each birthday. It is also suggested that pocket money is given out on a regular day each week.
  • In many families an understanding may be reached that once a child is old enough to help out with basic household chores, top-ups to pocket money can be arranged in exchange for jobs done. In some foster placements this could be appropriate, especially in long term placements where such an understanding and trust could be built up over time. In shorter term placements this may be less easy to achieve or inappropriate.
  • Achieving the right level of pocket money/monthly allowance is dependent on carers knowing the child/young person well and having a trusting relationship, with the child/young person developing a good understanding of the foster family’s culture regarding use of money
  • As a child gets older s/he may want more expensive extras which can be reflected in pocket money or be paid for by the carer out of the basic allowance received .For a teenager a monthly allowance to cover pocket money, clothing and other larger personal items should be considered (depending on their maturity and situation) and discussed with them
  • When children reach 10 years of age consideration could be given to provide them with a mobile phone depending on individual circumstances. However the start of secondary school maybe a more appropriate time. A child’s safety should be considered in decisions about providing a mobile phone. However it is clear that once a mobile is provided there is little or no control over the way it is used.
  • In principle children should pay for their mobile phone calls and texts as there should be no need for long conversations (although this will be dependent on individual circumstances).
  • To promote a child/young person’s positive contact with their birth family top-ups to their pocket money will need to be made to enable birthday and Christmas presents to be bought for birth and foster family members
  • When a young person becomes a teenager a monthly allowance to cover pocket money, clothing and other larger personal items should be considered (depending on their maturity and situation) and discussed with them
  • The rate of pocket money paid to young people should be realistic. It is the responsibility of carers and social workers to help ensure the smooth transition to independent living after foster care. It would be unhelpful to this process if a young person’s pocket money enabled her/him to enter in to a lifestyle which was not possible if s/he later had to live independently.
  • Pocket money could be withheld as a last resort but it should be saved or carried over until the next week.


It is important that children know the value of saving and it is an important part of a young person’s development. Foster carers play an important role in helping children save.

It is recommended that the pocket money children in care receive is matched by a similar amount of savings each week. This is an expectation and incorporated into the allowance foster carers receive for the child.

Foster carers should open up a savings account for children in their care if the children do not already have one. Any savings account will move with the child. The opening of an account (if not already done) should be considered at a child’s second Looked After Children Review.

Issuing young people with large sums of money when they reach adulthood can be risky and requires detailed discussion, preparation and planning.

Suggested Minimum Pocket Money Amounts

Pocket money should not be paid to children under 5 years old. The significant change involved in a child moving to secondary school is reflected in pocket money paid. The following guidelines should normally be followed:


Weekly minimum amount


5 years £1.00

from 5 to 16 ‘extras’ can be paid for birthday & Xmas presents for family members and chores within the home

could be topped up by a monthly allowance if appropriate

6 £1.50
7 £2.00
8 £2.50
9 £3.00
10 £3.50
11 £5.00
12 £6.00
13 £7.00
14 £8.00
15 £9.00
16 £10.00

Personal allowances for a child/young person placed

Fostering Network recommend that within the basic weekly allowance there is a ‘personal allowances’ element. This is intended to cover both pocket money and other personal expenses for children and young people which could cover such items as cosmetics, deodorants, sanitary protection, shaving equipment, dry cleaning, landline and mobile telephone calls and comics. It is important, particularly with older children, to be clear from the start about who pays for what! Some households will continue to supply many items as part of the weekly ‘shop’ or from the general housekeeping pool. There needs to be discussion at the outset of the placement about how much of the personal allowances element should be paid to the carer and how much to the young person, as pocket money and savings.


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