Take young care leavers out of Council Tax

November 28, 2018 9:53 PM
By Will Forster

Lib Dems urge Surrey local authorities to take young care leavers out of Council Tax

Earlier this year, Lib Dem County Councillor Will Forster persuaded Woking Borough Council to exempt young people who have recently left the care system from paying Council Tax until their 25th birthday. Surrey County Council also agreed a package of measures to support care leavers, including plans to take young care leavers out of Council Tax, at the start of the year as well.

However, in response to a question from Councillor Will Forster during the Full Council meeting on 13th November at County Hall, the Cabinet Member responsible for looked after children confirmed that only Woking Council has fully exempted care leavers from Council Tax and one other Borough Council in Surrey is close to doing so, meaning that nine other Surrey Borough Councils have no plans to financial support young care leavers.

Will Forster, Lib Dem County Councillor for Woking South, said:

"Earlier this year, I was delighted both Surrey County Council and Woking Borough Council unanimously agreed two motions from me about supporting Surrey's 730 young care leavers. However, I am very disappointed that so little progress has been made taking care leavers out of Council Tax. That is why I have asked the County Council to write to Surrey's Borough Councils urging them to give young care leavers a 100% discount on Council Tax."

"As corporate parents, Councillors need to do everything we can to try to make the start of their transition to adult life is as smooth as possible. Without the family support most young people get as they become adults, care leavers often struggle to juggle their household bills and make ends meet. Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other basic necessities. To expect some of the most vulnerable young people to start paying Council Tax just days after leaving care is setting them up to fail."

"Care leavers have had their childhoods punctuated by instability and trauma, they leave home earlier and have less support than other young people. Although taking care leavers out of the Council Tax system is not a silver bullet to the challenges they face, it will be a step in the right direction and will help these young people make a successful transition out of care. By investing in young people at this stage, local authorities can help prevent more costly interventions in the future."