Care leavers to get council tax exemption

Published: Friday 9th February 18

The Children’s Society has welcomed news that Wandsworth council is to pay the council tax bills of young people leaving the care system.

The council will exempt care leavers from tax up to the age of 21. It is going further than many other councils bringing in a similar scheme by paying the council tax of all care leavers wherever they choose to live – not just those staying in Wandsworth.

The policy aims to help young people as they move through a difficult period of transition into modern life and is part of a package of support, including help on how to budget and manage their own finances as they take on more responsibilities as they grow older.

Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society, which has campaigned nationally for care leavers to be exempted from council tax, said: “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 Wandsworth Council is introducing this exemption which will make life easier for many young people making the move into independent living.”

Councillors at last night’s education committee greenlit the exemption as part of a package of support for care leavers – known as a ‘local offer’. The decision will need to be ratified by a meeting of the council Executive on Monday.

Feedback from care leavers showed that many feel information on the support they are entitled to is not communicated clearly enough to them. A key part of the local offer will see care leavers working with council graphic designers to create an information pack giving clear information about support with health, relationship, education, training, accommodation and work.

Some services will also be strengthened including more mental health support, better access to apprenticeships and accommodation for young people with complex needs.

The council’s finance spokesman Cllr Guy Senior said: “We take our duties as corporate parents very seriously and have listened to our young care leavers who told us how we can help make their transition to adult life easier.

“When a child leaves home, his or her parent does not just cut all responsibilities. That’s why we will continue to pay care leavers’ council tax up wherever they chose to live. And we’ll regularly review our local offer to make sure we’re giving them the information and support they need.”

Read more about the council tax exemption and the local offer.

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Recent comments

When I got a job at 19, I paid my mum for half of all our household bills. She didn't pay my share of Council Tax, nor electricity, water or anything else. If you think it's unfair for care leavers to pay Council Tax, why is it fair for unemployed people and people on low incomes to pay it, when many of them no longer have parents to pay it for them? If I were claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or caring for someone all day or something like that, I would pay £13 per month (Band B). Either you think poor/vulnerable people should be protected from Council Tax, or you think that paying £13 per month gets people into good habits. If you believe the latter, surely, as a corporate parent, you should extend this tough love to care-leavers?
Alison Price

10 February 2018

Another of the reasons for the possible increase in our Council Tax. How many in Wandsworth actually pay a Full Council Tax? - and how many of us Full Council Tax payers are funding these reduced Council Tax Payers? Totally unfair that the 'workers' seem to be subsidising the 'shirkers'. How about cutting child benefits to discourage these folk producing children they have no interest in bringing up.
Liz D

10 February 2018

Fabulous. So glad you did this! They have had a tough time... and this will help them at another tough time in their life trying to get established!
M Taylor

9 February 2018