Young Manchester care-leavers will be exempt from paying Council Tax until they reach 21 if proposals going to next week’s Executive are agreed by councillors.
The proposals call for the council to use its discretionary powers to support young people leaving care by offering those who live in the city a 100 per cent Council Tax discount. Under the new proposals care-leavers wouldn’t pay any Council Tax at all until they turn 21.
The proposals are in line with the Government’s recently published ‘Keep on Caring’, that encourages local authorities to consider the role of a Corporate Parent through ‘the lens of what any reasonable parent does to give their child the best start in life.’
Care-leavers nationally have also consistently reported that they were insufficiently prepared for the realities of living independently, particularly in relation to budgeting.
A 2015 report by the Children’s Society ‘The Wolf at the Door – how council tax debt collection is harming children’ also suggests that care leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt.
The proposals going before councillors recognise the challenges facing care-leavers and it’s hoped providing this support would help them better manage the social and financial transition from local authority care to independent living.
Councillor Sheila Newman, Executive Member for Children and Families, Manchester City Council, said: “Looked after children and care leavers are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society. As corporate parents we want to make sure that young people’s experiences when they leave care and move into independent living are positive and improve their life chances.
“We know that managing budgets can be very challenging for most people on low incomes, and especially so for young people just starting out. For care-leavers who may have no family and therefore fewer support networks around them, this challenge can be even greater and they are likely to find things even more difficult.
“We’re determined to do everything we can to improve the life chances of all our young people, and if we can remove some of the financial burden on this most vulnerable group of young people, and give them a leg up to help them on their way, this can only be a good thing and it’s right that we should do this.”
If the proposals are agreed any discounts would be awarded to young care leavers with immediate effect with further discretion for discounts to be backdated to 1 April 2017.