Sheffield Greens have called for young people leaving care to be given a council tax break until they are aged 25.
Responding to a national Children’s Society campaign on the difficulties many young care leavers find themselves in, Green Party councillors have submitted a motion calling for care leavers to be exempt from paying Council Tax until the age of 25. The investment would lead to savings with fewer cases where housing and social services staff have to step in.
If accepted, Sheffield would join over 60 local authorities which have already taken this step, recognising this vulnerable group.
Councillor Alison Teal said
“Getting into Council Tax arrears can mean fines, court summons and bailiffs. Young people who have left foster care or care homes need time and space to gain skills around managing money. They might not have the same support from family as many other people the same age but that’s where the Council can help. Exempting young care leavers from Council Tax is just giving a bit more support where it’s really needed.”
Councillor Douglas Johnson added,
“This is an investment in a particularly vulnerable group where poor outcomes in future would mean council and social health services having to step in at far greater expense. The exemption would also underline the corporate parental responsibility that Sheffield City Council has for care leavers, giving them a fairer start in life.”
- The award-winning Children’s Society campaign begun in 2016, with 1 in 6 councils now putting the exemption in place https://www.childrenssociety.orguk/what-you-can-do/campaign-for-change/a-fairer-start-for-care-leavers/
- There are around 440 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who have left the care of Sheffield City Council and have to pay Council Tax. The exemption might lead to lost revenue of around £75,000, though the actual amount is likely to be lower, given the difficulty some care leavers have with paying.
- The numbers of care leavers in Sheffield has been estimated following the Children’s Society method: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2016-to-2017/
- The local authority has legal corporate parental responsibility for care leavers
- The submitted motion is as follows:
Proposed by Cllr Alison Teal; Seconded by Cllr Douglas Johnson
That this Council: –
(a) Notes that last year around 75 young people (aged 16 or over) left the care of Sheffield City Council and began the difficult transition out of care and into adulthood;
(b) Further notes that a 2016 report by The Children’s Society found that when care leavers move into independent accommodation they begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time and can find this extremely challenging, often with no family to support them and insufficient financial education;
(c) Further notes research from The Centre for Social Justice, which found that over half (57%) of young people leaving care have difficulty managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care;
(d) believes that as national welfare cuts are removing financial support and the national strategy on Care Leavers is inadequate, Care Leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt
(e) notes that Sheffield City Council has statutory corporate parenting responsibilities towards young people up to the age of 25 who have left care;
(f) further notes that there are around 440 care leavers in Sheffield liable to pay Council Tax at any one time;
(g) believes that, to ensure that the transition from care to adult life is as smooth as possible, and to mitigate the chances of care leavers falling into debt as they begin to manage their own finances, they should be exempt from paying council tax until they are 25.
(h) believes that the lost revenue of around £75,000 in council tax receipts is excellent value given the positive impact that exemption will have for this vulnerable group, the duty the Council has under its corporate parenting responsibilities and the savings in reduced instances of housing and social care staff input;
(i) therefore requests officers to take steps to exempt all care leavers from council tax up to the age of 25.