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Coventry City Council is due to give a boost to care leavers in the city by giving them 100% Council Tax discount.
If approved by Cabinet when they meet on March 7, the discount would apply to young people aged 18-21 who have left local authority care but still live in Coventry.
Cllr Ed Ruane, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “As corporate parents its right we support our children in the difficult transition from children to adulthood. Like any parent we shouldn’t, and won’t, stop caring and wanting to help our children when they get to 18.
“There is a lot of evidence that looked after children can struggle to make the transition, both socially and financially, from being in care to being an adult. This Council Tax relief is just one way we can continue to support our young people and give them the best life chances as they make that difficult transition.”
It is proposed that, if approved, the Council Tax exemption for care leavers will be implemented from the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year.
The move comes as the Children’s Society have raised concerns that care leavers are a group particularly vulnerable to debt. In their report they highlighted the transition from being looked after to managing a budget is a challenging period.
Peter Grigg, Director of External Affairs at The Children’s Society, said: “Care leavers have often experienced abuse, neglect or family breakdown in childhood and their life chances are likely to be significantly worse than for those who have not grown up in care. Without the family safety net that most young people have as they become adults, they can 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 has been calling on local authorities – who take on parental responsibilities for children in care – to exempt those leaving care from paying council tax. We’re delighted that Coventry Council has taken this vital step to support care leavers, and we would urge other councils to follow their lead.”
A care leaver from Coventry Voices of Care, said: “This is a great idea which will not only take the pressure of money troubles off a young person, but it also proves to us that the council are doing what they can to help us.”
The Council has the discretion to reduce Council Tax liability for certain individuals or groups.
In October 2015 there were 276 care leavers in the 18-21 age bracket (18-25 if in full-time education), with 196 still living in Coventry. Around 70 of those were liable to pay Council Tax.
The report recommends the funding for the first year of the scheme will be identified from corporate reserves with ongoing funding built into budget setting proposals for future years subject to a review of the impact of the scheme in 6 months.
The full report to Cabinet can be found at www.coventry.gov.uk/councilmeetings