During transition, you will need to think carefully about the various forms of financial support you will need to help your son or daughter to achieve their plans for the future.
Don't be afraid to ask for help in dealing with direct payments or personal budgets. There are people who can advise you.
Local authorities can now give payments instead of services. This allows people with a learning disability and their families and carers to buy the services they need, giving them more choice and control. Direct payments are paid to the parents of children, but young people can receive direct payments in their own right from the age of 16.
Personal budgets are being introduced in some areas of England and Wales and are part of the government's personalisation plan for social care services. They go a step further than direct payments, as they enable people to take full control of their social care budgets, manage their support and choose the services that best meet their needs. Personal budgets are also known under other names, such as individual budgets.
If you live in Wales, Wrexham is the only local authority currently providing personal budgets. However, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Cardiff, Swansea, Denbighshire and Powys will all be offering personal budgets soon.
When your son or daughter turns 16 there will changes in the benefits they receive, and they will start to claim benefits in their own right. If you continue to care for your son or daughter you should be able to continue to claim allowances for yourself as a carer too. Many parents have told Mencap that the benefits system can be confusing, especially as it changes so frequently. However, it is important to find out what benefits your family are entitled to, and what extra support you may be able to receive.
The Independent Living Fund (ILF)
The ILF is a trust set up and financed by central government to support people to live independently rather than in residential care. If you get higher rate care component Disability Living Allowance then you may be able to apply. In order to qualify for ILF you already need to be receiving a certain amount of support from social care services and your application needs to be made jointly with them, although sometimes there can be flexibility with your local authority about this. If you are eligible the ILF will provide funding for you to pay for a carer to support your son or daughter at home or in the community. If you have a son or daughter in a residential school placement, you can receive ILF to pay for support for your son or daughter when they are not in school but spending time at home with you.
We were given an additional two hours of care support just to push us over the threshold of spending from our local authority so that we could apply for ILF.
Wills and trusts
As your son or daughter approaches adulthood, you may become more concerned about planning for their financial future when you are no longer there. One way of getting peace of mind for the future is to make a will or set up a trust for them. This can be a complicated process, so it is always a good idea to seek professional advice from a specialist in the subject, and to talk to your family and friends about your plans.
- Read Mencap's guide to money and benefits
- Read Mencap's guide to leaving money to someone with a learning disability
- Find out more about self-directed support on our In Control and Me pages
- Find out more about the Independent Living Fund