Will Forster

Mayor of Woking and Lib Dem County Councillor for Woking South Learn more

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Woking Council to exempt young care leavers from Council Tax

by willforster on 9 February, 2018

Young people leaving care in Woking will soon be exempt from paying Council Tax until their 25th birthday following Woking Borough Council’s unanimous decision to back my motion on the subject.

I was delighted that during last night’s Full Council, all Councillors agreed to support my call to help Woking’s section of the 730 young care leavers who live in Surrey by giving them a 100% Council Tax discount from April.

The reasoning behind this is simple – care leavers have some of the worse life chances in the country.  20% of young homeless people have previously been in care, 24% of the adult prison population have been in care, 70% of sex workers have been in care and only 6% of care leavers are in higher education at 19.  This is despite local authorities like Surrey County Council and Woking Borough Council being corporate parents to these vulnerable young people.

Care leavers have often experienced a really difficult upbringing and they may have experienced abuse, neglect or family breakdown which can have a big impact upon their life chances.  Without the family support most young people get as they become adults, care leavers often struggle to juggle their household bills and make ends meet.  Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other basic necessities.  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.

The highly respected and independent Children’s Society has recommended local authorities take young care leavers out of Council Tax to help them successfully transition into adulthood.

Although taking care leaves out of the Council Tax system is not be a silver bullet to the challenges they face, it will be a step in the right direction and help these young people make a successful transition out of care.  By investing in young people at this stage, the Council can help prevent more costly interventions in the future.

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