A Council Tax exemption to Care Leavers up to the age of 25 was approved by Council on 20 September 2018.
As at 1 January 2018, Ceredigion County Council had 32 care leavers between 18 and 25 living independently and of these, approximately 6 were liable to pay Council Tax. The Council considered and approved a policy for care leavers for persons exempt from Council Tax, under Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, to ensure young people do not accumulate Council Tax debt. The Care Leavers Council Tax Relief will be available from the start of the 2018/19 financial year.
Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Finance and Procurement Services said, “Children and young people who are looked after by the local authority rather than their parents are amongst the most vulnerable groups in our community and corporate parenting is a statutory function of the Council. I am therefore very pleased that we are supporting our Care Leavers with the exemption from paying Council Tax up to the age of 25 as proposed by Children’s Society (Wales).”
A 2015 report by The Children’s Society (The Wolf at the Door. How council tax debt collection is harming children) suggests that care leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt. It found that when care leavers move into independent accommodation and they begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time that this is a challenging time for care leavers, particularly if they are falling behind on their Council Tax.
The Children’s Society report made a number of recommendations, including making care leavers eligible for a council tax discount. They state that this would help to relieve some of the initial pressure and would sit alongside a number of other financial support arrangements available to care leavers. The estimated cost of providing the discount would be approximately £2,500 per annum after taking account of other discounts and exemptions which might apply, which would be dealt with in full by the Council.
The Council already helps some Care Leavers through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Council Tax Support) by awarding a means-tested reduction (up to 100%) in their Council Tax liability. In proposing a Care Leavers Relief Scheme for Ceredigion under the Section 13A Local Government Finance Act 1992, any award would be after the appropriate statutory Council Tax exemptions, discounts and Council Tax Support have been applied.
The Council decision contributes towards realising the Council’s corporate priorities within the Corporate Strategy of investing in people’s future and Enabling Individual and Family Resilience.