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Author Topic: Council scraps council tax for care leavers  (Read 615 times)
RBWM Press Release
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« on: August 15, 2017, 12:03:41 PM »

Care leavers are going to be given an extra helping hand as the Royal Borough introduces council tax exemptions to make their first steps into independent life easier.

The council has agreed to scrap the payments up until care leavers turn 25 as it looks for further ways to ensure that all young people are enabled to live enjoyable and productive lives.

The discount equates to a saving of more than £100 every month and is aimed at easing the financial burden on those who are learning to manage their home finances for the first time. The council is backdating these savings to 1 June 2015.

Care leavers are known to be at a higher risk of becoming homeless when living independently and the council wants to offer this support to make their lives easier.

Cllr Natasha Airey, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “For many care leavers their lives have already involved a lot of difficulty and uncertainty before they come to taking their first steps into an independent life.

“What we want to do is make sure they know that, while they may have left the care system, there are still plenty of things we can do as a council to help make their lives easier.

“This will not affect a large number of people in the borough, but by putting more than a thousand pounds a year back into the pockets of some of our most vulnerable residents, we hope to make a real difference to the next stage of their lives.”

In 2015, The Children’s Society’s Wolf at the Door, report highlighted that some local authorities were failing to provide sufficient support and advice to families struggling with council tax debt by using damaging debt practices. The Royal Borough was not one of these. 

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: “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.

“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.

“That’s why The Children’s Society is continuing to call on local authorities to exempt care leavers from paying council tax.

“We’re delighted that the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead is introducing this exemption which will make life easier for many young people making the move into independent living.”

A Band D property in an unparished area of the borough currently has a council tax base of £1,223.77, meaning the new scheme will save each care leaver at least £100 every month.

The council proposed a new mandatory 100 percent council tax exemption to care leavers aged 18-21, and a new optional up to 100 percent council tax exemption to care leavers aged 22-25. The optional exemption can be awarded at council officers’ discretion.
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