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Young people who are in care could become exempt from paying council tax until they are 25

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 10 July 2019

The cabinet at Barking and Dagenham Council will vote on proposals on whether to give people who have left care a council tax exemption up to the age of 25. Picture: Ken Mears.

The cabinet at Barking and Dagenham Council will vote on proposals on whether to give people who have left care a council tax exemption up to the age of 25. Picture: Ken Mears.

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Young people who are in care will be exempt from paying council tax until they turn 25 under new proposals drawn up by the town hall.

The plans by Barking and Dagenham Council would mean anyone leaving places like foster and children's homes could save thousands of pounds from April 2020, providing they continue to live in the borough.

According to the proposal the council wants to embrace being 'pushy parents' and adopt a benchmark of 'would this be good enough for my child?' when it's helping care leavers.

If the tax exemption is passed, the council joins neighbouring boroughs Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Waltham Forest in adopting it.

The report on care leavers details a range of measures to help these vulnerable people and is going to the cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

Traineeships and paid work experience are also being put forward to give care leavers a better chance at getting into work.

The Children's Society has been campaigning for councils to remove the council tax burden from young people leaving care.

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It said after becoming independent adults for the first time at the age of 18, children in care are thrown into managing their own households, education and employment.

According to the Church of England-backed charity, they can find managing their own budgets challenging without any family to help them through it.

Without these exemptions, they also face the fear of getting behind on their council tax.

Sam Royston is director of policy and research at the children's society and applauded the council's proposal.

"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," he said.

"Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other basic necessities.

"To expect some of the country's most vulnerable young people to start paying council tax just days after leaving care is setting them up to fail."

These actions come after the watchdog Ofsted rated Barking and Dagenham's children's services as 'requires improvement' - the second lowest rating they can offer.

Released at the beginning of April, the report found poor access mental health support and that healthcare for care leavers was a 'significant concern'.

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