More details unveiled about care leavers support

Young people leaving care in Plymouth could get a helping hand to lead an independent life under proposals discussed at Cabinet today (15 January).

The proposals recommend 18 to 24-year-olds who live in Plymouth and are leaving the care of the local authority are exempt from Council Tax until their 25th birthday.

Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People unveiled more details of the scheme which, if approved, will come into effect on April 1 – the start of the new financial year.

She said: “We know from our work with care leavers that finding somewhere to live and learning to budget for the first time can be extremely tough, especially when there is no family to turn to.

“The council is corporate parent to these young people and like most parents, we want to do our best. We have a responsibility to improve their life chances where we can.”

Under Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 the Council can reduce the amount of Council Tax payable. It can specify a class of use, where several taxpayers may fall into a group due to similar circumstances.

There are over 340 care leavers aged between 18 and 24 currently living in the city, although many of them are not responsible for paying council tax now because of their living arrangements.

The budget setting process begins in earnest with Cabinet discussing the draft budget today.

Subject to the care leaver’s exemption being approved and the council tax rate for next year being decided by Council on 25 February, the exemption will be included for all eligible care leavers living in the city in the 2019/20 council tax bills which get sent at the beginning of March.

Councillor McDonald added: “There has been a lot of interest and support since we announced these proposals last week as part of the papers going out.

“We are really pleased that this idea is proving to be such a hit with those young people. Having one less bill to worry about could make all the difference to care leavers starting their adult life. They have to juggle with rent, utilities bills as well as college or work. Getting into debt and losing tenancies are among the biggest issues in care leavers face. We want to give them a hand.”