Will Forster

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

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Young care leavers should be taken out of Council Tax

by willforster on 13 March, 2018

I have submitted a motion to next week’s Full Surrey County Council meeting calling for care leavers to be exempted from paying Council Tax until they are 25.

The campaign was initiated elsewhere in the country by highly respected charity The Children’s Society.  I successfully campaigned for this policy to be adopted by Woking Borough Council, and now I am proposing that County Hall takes all young care leavers in Surrey out of Council Tax altogether.

The reasoning behind this is simple – care leavers have some of the worst 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.

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.

Care leavers have had their childhoods punctuated by instability and trauma, they leave home earlier and have less support than other young people.  Although taking care leavers out of the Council Tax system is not a silver bullet to the challenges they face, it will be a step in the right direction and will help these young people make a successful transition out of care.  By investing in young people at this stage, the County Council can help prevent more costly interventions in the future.

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