Derbyshire County Council’s ruling Conservative Group has announced it hopes to see Care Leavers exempt from having to pay Council Tax until the age of 25.
Care Leavers are young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who spent time in care being looked after by the local authority when they were a child or teenager. They are widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society.
The Children’s Society report that Care Leavers are particularly susceptible to falling behind with council tax payments, with over half experiencing difficulties managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care. A situation which the charity put down to a lack of proper financial education during their time at school, meaning that many do not feel they have a practical understanding of finances and bills that they can use in everyday life.
The Conservative administration at County Hall gave approval for Council officers to work up proposals to implement a council tax exemption back in February of this year. Since then, work has been undertaken to analyse the costs and find out best practice from other authorities who have already implemented the exemption.
Last week, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Young People, Cllr Alex Dale, wrote to all District and Borough Council leaders across the County to ask for their support in implementing the exemption.
Commenting, Cllr Dale said: “With just over 450 care leavers in Derbyshire and several already exempt or in receipt of a discount for other reasons, the cost to councils is only small. But the positive impact this could have on the lives of some of our most disadvantaged young people is absolutely massive. It could be the difference between a young person living in fear of a court summons and opting not to work to get a discount on their council tax bill or having the confidence to go out and get a job and keep more of their hard-earned money in their own back pocket.
“The average age for their contemporaries to leave the parental home is now 27, so it is absolutely the right thing to do to support those who, for whatever reason, are forced to live independently at such a young age.”
The Leader of Derbyshire County Council, Cllr Barry Lewis added: “In Government, the Conservatives have cut taxes for over 30million people and taken 4million of the lowest paid out of paying income tax altogether. We remain the Party of low taxes, so it seems only right that it is a Conservative administration that is seeking to cut taxes for Care Leavers.”
For more information on the Children's Society campaign on this issue, please visit: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaign-for-change…