Posted: 03 April 2017

Making life a little easier for care leavers

Up and down the country council tax bills for the coming year are hitting doormats. However, thanks to joint efforts between us, our supporters and local councils, more than 4,000 young care leavers will be exempt from paying from April 2017.

A difficult time for care leavers

Care leavers have often experienced a really difficult upbringing and they may have encountered abuse, neglect or a family breakdown – all of which can have a big impact upon their life chances.

Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other necessities

Without the family support that most young people get as they become adults, care leavers often struggle to juggle their household bills and make ends meet.

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A fairer start for care leavers

Ask your council to ensure that care leavers in your area get a fairer start at adulthood

Our Wolf at the Door report into council tax debt showed that the pace of escalation of debt by local authorities could be frightening for care leavers. What can start out for many as falling slightly behind can very quickly escalate to a court summons and enforcement action being taken.

Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other necessities.

A fairer start for care leavers

In many cases care leavers were aware of bills, just not how to pay them. This was a situation that can be further exacerbated by a lack of proper financial education during their time at school and in care meaning that they did not feel they had a practical understanding of finances and bills that they could use in everyday life.

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 we have been calling on local authorities – who have parental responsibility for children in care and care leavers up to their mid-twenties – to exempt those leaving care from paying council tax until their 25th birthday.

The policy has gained the support from councils and councillors of all political stripes

Making life a little easier

More than 4,000 care leavers from 12 council areas across the country will be waking up today without the burden of having to pay this bill. The policy has gained the support from councils and councillors of all political stripes, which has been really positive.

As well as the 12 councils that have introduced the measure, we know of dozens more that are thinking about it thanks to the efforts of our fantastic supporters who have written to them asking them to consider doing so.

What can you do?

Being a councillor is often a thankless task, so we are encouraging our supporters to email their local council and thank them if they have already introduced measures to exempt care leavers from council tax. You can find out if your council is already one of those offering this policy on our fairer start for care leavers webpage.

If your local councillor is yet to take action, we have an easy step-by-step guide to help you encourage them to do so.

ask your council to ensure a fairer start for care leavers

Together we can help get these young people the valuable years they need to avoid problem debt in the future.

By Tom Redfearn - Policy team
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