The government has increased the allowance prisoners receive on leaving prison for the first time in more than a quarter of a century to £76. The increase of the discharge grant, which is supposed to help ex-prisoners meet costs in the early days following their release, was just £46 for the last 26 years; however the rise was announced at an event hosted by the social justice charity Nacro.
According to chief exec Campbell Robb, the increase had been ‘passionately argued for’ and would make a ‘significant difference to the chances of those leaving prison’. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a small number of prisoners received an ‘enhanced’ discharge grant of £80, but most received just £46 – the amount set in 1995. The enhanced discharge grant was given to those allowed home under a new early release scheme as, according to ministers, they had less time to prepare for their departure from prison.
In March, the Justice Gap reported that according to campaigners, more than six out of 10 women prisoners were homeless on release, with only the discharge grant and a plastic bag of belongings. This put vulnerable women at risk, argued campaigners, preventing them from securing regular employment and achieving rehabilitation.
‘This is the first increase to the prison discharge grant in over 20 years, and long-awaited positive news,’ said Campbell Robb. ‘Too often people come out of prison with nothing. If people are unable to afford the basics for a fresh start – food, toiletries, transport – we are setting them up to fail. This increase is a very welcome step towards giving people the best chance of a second chance.’