Young care leavers exempt from Council Tax

12 February 2018

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Young people leaving care in Woking will soon be exempt from paying Council Tax until their 25th birthday following a unanimous decision at Thursday's meeting of Council (8 February 2018).

Council agreed to support the motion proposed by Cllr Will Forster, to help young care leavers who live in the Borough by giving them a full discount from 1 April 2018.

Cllr Forster, said: "I am delighted that the Council backed my motion. The reasoning behind this is simple. Care leavers have some of the worse life chances in the country. Twenty per cent of young homeless people have previously been in care, 24 per cent of the adult prison population has been in care, 70 per cent of sex workers have been in care and only six per cent of care leavers are in higher education by the time they turn 19 years of age."

Cllr David Bittleston, Leader of Woking Borough Council, who seconded the motion, added: "Although taking care leaves out of the Council Tax system is not a silver bullet to the challenges they face, it is a step in the right direction towards helping these young people make a successful transition out of care. By investing in our young people now, we can help prevent more costly interventions in the future."

The highly respected and independent Children's Society has recommended local authorities take young care leavers out of Council Tax to help them successfully transition into adulthood. By exempting care leavers from Council Tax, often their most expensive bill, they will be better placed to start managing their own finances when they leave the care system.

Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children's Society, said: "Care leavers have often experienced a really difficult upbringing and they may have experienced abuse, neglect or family breakdown which can have a big impact upon their life chances.

"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.

"We're delighted that Woking Borough Council plans to introduce this exemption which will make life easier for many young people making the move into independent living, and we hope that the other districts in Surrey will follow Woking's lead."