On Friday, a £20 million experiment offering a basic income to young people leaving care will begin in Wales.
The Welsh government will offer around 500 18-year-olds £19,200 per year before tax starting on July 1.
One care leaver described the money as a “safety blanket,” and others hope it will help the 18-year-olds get off to a good start.
However, the Welsh Conservatives were concerned that the scheme would cause more problems than it would solve.
Officials intend to investigate the scheme to see if the money, which is roughly equivalent to the living wage, can assist the young people in settling into independent living.
According to the Welsh government, the cash offered is the highest amount offered on a basic income pilot anywhere in the world.
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Despite Welsh government’s hopes that UK ministers would disregard the scheme for both, the income will count against benefits and recipients will pay the basic rate of tax.
It works out to £1,600 per month – or £1,280 once tax is deducted.
Care leavers Chloe and Chelsea are among those who will benefit.
Chloe, who has been in care since she was seven years old, intends to attend university. She believes the scheme will be “extremely beneficial.”
“I’d like to take a course in youth work. I believe that this scheme will help me financially and allow me to do things that I would not be able to do otherwise.”
“I do know there are some care leavers who don’t have the family support that I do,” she said, referring to her “quite lucky” foster family support.
The money will be used to pay for necessities such as food, but she also hopes to save some. “If I’m in university, it can help me buy school supplies.”
She described the money as a “safety blanket” and expressed gratitude for the opportunity.
Chelsea has been in foster care since she was four years old.
She told BBC Wales that because she is leaving soon, a large portion of her basic income will be spent on rent. She, too, hopes to save some of it.
Chelsea hoped to find work while on the scheme, saying, “I’m applying for anything right now.”
She stated that she “can’t wait” to be an independent adult and that the money would make a “significant difference.”
Former care leaver Rhian, who will not receive the money, was among those who assisted officials in putting the pilot together.
During the pandemic, she left care.
“I was made homeless, and then I got a place about a year ago, and then I couldn’t afford the bills or anything, so I had to move out again,” she explained.
According to Rhian, care leavers are frequently limited in the amount of support they can receive: “It’s a big change for us as care leavers to go from loads of support to basic support.”
“It will definitely give people turning 18 this year a jumpstart on what real life is like and give them budgeting support.”
The scheme will run until 2025, will cost around £20 million, and will be available to young people leaving care who turn 18 between July 1 and June 30.