Council Tax Exemption for Care Leavers
Out of my desire to make things better for children in care and care leavers we have been working behind the scenes with the Children’s Society and Nottinghamshire County Council to exempt care leavers from Council Tax in Nottinghamshire. In all there are 7 District and Borough Councils in Nottinghamshire that are responsible for collecting council tax on behalf of the County Council, Parish Councils, Police and Fire authorities.
We are working with Local Authorities to create a Local Offer for Care Leavers that includes a Council Tax Exemption until the age of 25.
And aim to be the first County to do this but for this to happen it needs to go through committee in the following councils;
Gedling Borough Council, Mansfield District Council, Ashfield District Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council, Broxtowe District Council and Bassetlaw District Council
Gedling Borough Council was the first in Nottinghamshire to do this. Read the story here
In England 10,000 children leave care every year and their prospects are not good. Care Leavers are more likely to go to prison or be living on the streets than go to university. And I was brought up in the system and by the time of my 14th Birthday had experienced 100 moves.
As children we left care but we were not prepared and many children that leave care today are not prepared either which is why I am working with councils across the country to make things better and the council tax exemption is a small part of what we are doing.
But for care leavers that get an exemption it will help them so much because in most cases they don’t have family to fall back on and they are competing for entry level jobs whilst having to run a household.
We hear so much how children are living at home with their parents until their late twenties. In fact the national average that a child leaves home in the UK is 26 years old. So when you compare that to a care leaver who has no choice and has to leave when they are 18. You can start to get a handle on what is going on.
Care leavers will be running their own households by the time they are 18 and will have all the normal bills to pay including rent, heating, gas, electricity, water, Tv licence, food, transport and clothing all whilst competing for entry level jobs with other youngsters that are living at home with their parents.
The Local Authority will help children leaving care to get a place, they will even help with a grant for bits and bobs but if they are anything like we were when we left care, they will want to get as far away from the Social Services as possible.
In reality most care leavers are on benefits or in some kind of education until around 21 years old so the impact of this policy on council budgets is going to be very small.
But care leavers that go straight into work and want to make a go of things can end up in debt because wages don’t stretch that far. They then lose their home and can end up on the streets suffering mental health issues.