Q: My partner has been moved to a lower security prison which is good news for him but not so great for me because it is nearly 200 miles away. Is there any way I can get help with travelling costs?
A: If you are in receipt of benefits, are a dependent of someone who is receiving benefits or are on a low income, you may be able to claim travelling costs to the prison from The Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU). If you qualify for assistance, you may also get help with meals and other expenses.
To be eligible for help you must be a close relative of the prisoner, i.e. wife, husband, mother, father, son, daughter, brother or sister, grandparent, adoptive/step/half-brother/sister, step-child or step-parent. If you and the prisoner were not married but were living together as a couple before he was taken into custody, you would also be eligible. If you were not living together but have eligible children you may apply by acting as an escort to them. The only others eligible to apply are those who are a prisoner’s sole visitor.
If you claim as a sole visitor the APVU will contact the prison to confirm that the prisoner has not been visited by anyone else in the four weeks prior to your visit. Benefits that qualify for help with travel costs include Income Support, Income- Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit with a disability element or Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit or hold a Health Benefits Certificate. A Health Benefits Certificate or tax credit award notice is required the first time of claiming. If applying as an escort of eligible children, the APVU will require proof of eligibility, such as a birth certificate showing the prisoner to be the children’s father. Further information and application forms are available from APVU, PO Box 2152, Birmingham B15 1SD, Tel: 0845 300 1423.