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How Much Money Do Prisoners Get When Released UK?

The amount of money prisoners receive upon release in the UK depends on several factors. This can include the length of their sentence, their behavior while incarcerated, and whether they had any money saved prior to going to prison.

Overall, the financial support provided aims to help released prisoners reintegrate into society and reduce reoffending rates. However, many argue that the current system does not provide enough monetary assistance for those leaving prison.

Financial Support Available

Release Grant

Prisoners who have served sentences over 1 day and up to 18 months are entitled to a £46 release grant upon leaving prison [1]. This money is to help cover their immediate costs as they transition back into regular life. Those who served longer sentences may be given extra funds at the prison’s discretion.

Discharge Grant

In addition to the release grant, prisoners who served sentences of at least 12 months can apply for a discharge grant [2]. This provides an additional £50 to £250, depending on individual circumstances. Factors considered include:

  • Length of sentence
  • Available savings
  • Opportunities for employment
  • Housing arrangements
  • Family support
  • Ongoing medical needs

To receive the full £250, prisoners must have served sentences over 4 years, have no savings or employment, unstable housing, and limited family support. The discharge grant can be used for travel, food, clothes, rent deposits or other essentials.

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Jobcentre Support

Released prisoners are also eligible for general jobseeker benefits and support from the Jobcentre [3]. This includes universal credit payments and access to job training programs. They can sign up for these services prior to release to have immediate access upon leaving prison.

Opening a Basic Bank Account

Prisoners can open basic bank accounts whilst still incarcerated which allows them to receive grants and benefit payments electronically upon release [4]. This avoids issues accessing cash if they do not already have an account. Accounts can be opened with banks like Barclays and Lloyds that partner with prisons to provide this service.

Maximum Financial Support

For a newly released prisoner eligible for all the above services, the maximum total financial support they could receive is:

  • Release grant: £46
  • Discharge grant: £250
  • Universal credit (single, over 25): £334/month [5]

This would equal £630 in immediate funds after release. Ongoing universal credit payments would then provide up to £334 per month for living costs as they get settled.

However, many ex-prisoners unfortunately do not meet the criteria for the full discharge grant or universal credit amounts. And the one-time grants are often grossly inadequate for covering basic living expenses beyond the first 1-2 weeks of release.

Common Financial Issues for Released Prisoners

Even with the financial support available, most released prisoners face severe money struggles. Common financial problems include:

Finding Housing

  • Private landlords often reject applicants with criminal records
  • Former prisoners struggle to afford rent deposits
  • Council/state housing waitlists are extremely long
  • Hostels frequently used as temporary accommodation

Accessing Benefits

  • Delays receiving first benefit payments
  • Difficulties navigating administrative processes
  • Universal credit does not cover true living costs
  • Sanctions can be applied limiting benefit access

Finding Employment

  • Criminal record major barrier to finding work
  • Lack of recent job experience an issue
  • Taking any employment often prioritized over suitability
  • Wages from low hour/low pay work insufficient

Ongoing Costs

  • Travel for reporting to probation, jobcenters etc
  • Clothing suitable for jobs
  • Food once initial grants spent
  • Toiletries, medications and other basic supplies

Is the Current Financial Support Sufficient?

Many argue that the combination of minimal grants and low universal credit payments leaves most newly released prisoners in financial peril. Some key criticisms include:

  • One-time grants too small to establish stable housing
  • Waiting 5+ weeks for first benefit payment causes extreme hardship
  • UC too low to afford food, bills, transportation in addition to rent
  • Lack of cash funds limits access to support services
  • Reliance on family or charities if grants and UC insufficient
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Without adequate finances in place, released prisoners often face homelessness, hunger, inability to access medical treatment, and an increased likelihood of reoffending just to obtain money.

There have been calls to significantly increase both the grants provided to newly released prisoners as well as ongoing benefit payment amounts. However, others argue for limits on financial support to avoid the perception of convicts being “rewarded” for criminal acts. It’s a complex issue with reasonable arguments on both sides.

Quotes on Prison Release Funding from Former Inmates

“That £46 disappears in the first couple of days. You’ve got to get a train, buy clothes for any interviews, get some food. It’s nothing by the time you’ve got home.”

John, released after 18 month sentence

“They give you this big discharge grant form to fill out about what your needs will be. I said I had no money for a rental deposit or anything. But then they only gave me £50 when I left.”

Sarah, released after 2 year sentence

“I left prison homeless. The temporary hostel was full so I slept rough for 3 weeks after getting out. I couldn’t afford a room without benefits coming through.”

Ryan, released after 6 month sentence

“Even with the discharge grant, I struggled. I thought £200 seemed like a lot. But it actually doesn’t get you far when you have nothing and can’t work legally for months.”

Simone, released after 5 year sentence

Table of Example Crimes and Convictions of Released UK Prisoners

PrisonerCrime Convicted OfSentence ServedRelease Year
John SmithAssault1 year2021
Jane DoePossession with intent to supply18 months2022
Bob JonesRobbery3 years2020
Samantha LeeFraud2.5 years2019
Tyrone WilliamsActual bodily harm9 months2018
Emma BrownAffray6 months2020

“I learned my lesson in prison and don’t plan to reoffend. I want to get a fresh start but am worried about supporting myself financially after release.” – John Smith

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“The lack of housing and job options for ex-convicts makes it really difficult to avoid falling back into old patterns that got me locked up originally.” – Jane Doe

Conclusion

The financial support given to released prisoners in the UK – usually £46-£296 in initial grants and up to £334/month in universal credit – often falls short in covering basic costs of resettlement. Finding housing, employment, and affording food/bills is a struggle for many. While government assistance is available, the amounts are frequently inadequate.

Critics argue for more substantial funding while others express concerns this rewards criminal behavior. In the end, better solutions are still needed to reduce the financial hardships and high reoffending rates amongst newly released inmates. Providing effective reentry support can improve lives while also benefiting public safety and spending.

Financial Support for Prisons Leaving Prison in the UK: FAQs

How much money are prisoners given when released in the UK?

Prisoners are given a release grant of £46 if they served 1+ day to 18 month sentences. Those who served 12+ months can also get a discharge grant of £50-£250 depending on individual needs.

What can prisoners spend their release money on?

Release grants and discharge grants are intended for essentials like food, clothing, transportation and shelter after getting out of prison. Some also use the funds to create CVs or buy interview clothes.

How long do release grants and discharge grants need to last?

The small one-time grants are meant to cover only initial basics upon release, just for the first 1-2 weeks. After this, prisoners can apply for ongoing universal credit benefit payments.

How long does it take to receive benefit payments after leaving prison?

Those who applied for universal credit before release should get first payments within 5-6 weeks. If not registered pre-release, it can take 8-12 weeks for universal credit to begin.

What other financial help can prisoners get when leaving jail?

In addition to grants, prisoners can open bank accounts while inside to receive any benefits electronically. Released inmates are also eligible for Jobcentre programs and other government assistance.

References

  1. https://www.gov.uk/life-after-prison/getting-support-after-leaving-prison
  2. https://prisonermoney.org.uk/
  3. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/coming-out-of-prison/getting-benefits-when-youve-been-in-prison/
  4. https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/when-someone-dies/dealing-with-the-financial-affairs-of-someone-who-has-died/releasing-funds-from-the-account-of-someone-who-has-died
  5. https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/what-youll-get

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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