The Labour Group has raised the following matter:
This council notes that:
· Last year 2160 young people (aged 16 or over) left the care of Kent Country Council and began the difficult transition out of care and into adulthood.
· A 2016 report by The Children’s Society found that when care leavers move into independent accommodation they begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time. The report showed that care leavers can find this extremely challenging and with no family to support them and insufficient financial education, are falling into debt and financial difficulty.
· Research from The Centre for Social Justice found that over half (57%) of young people leaving care have difficulty managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care.
· The local authority has statutory corporate parenting responsibilities towards young people who have left care up until the age of 25.
· The Children and Social Work Act 2017 places corporate parenting responsibilities on district councils for the first time, requiring them to have regard to children in care and care leavers when carrying out their functions.
· That in January of 2020 KCC resolved to: Agree that Kent County Council will fund the council tax payments for Kent young people who are Care Leavers from the age of 18 years, up to the age of 21 years. All young people will be supported and expected to claim any council tax benefit/discount entitlement that they are eligible for. E.g. singled person, student, severe impairment of mental capacity etc.
· A campaign by the Children’s society has successfully lobbied at least 130 councils to commit to keeping care leavers exempt from council tax until the age of 25. So far some 47,459 young people are benefiting from this scheme.
This council believes that:
1. To ensure that the transition from care to adult life is as smooth as possible, and to mitigate the chances of care leavers falling into debt as they begin to manage their own finances, they should be exempt from paying council tax until they are 25.
2. Care leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt.
This council, therefore, resolves:
1. To consider a report
assessing the options with the aim of exempting or significantly
reducing the amount of council tax due by young people, who have
left the care of Kent County Council between the ages of 22-25 who
currently reside in the district of Folkestone and Hythe.
Debates on opposition business shall be limited to 30 minutes. If the time limit is reached or the debate concludes earlier, the leader of the group raising the item shall have a right of reply.
The Council shall:
a) Note the issue raised and take no further action;
b) Refer the issue to the cabinet or relevant overview and scrutiny committee, as the case may be for their observations before deciding whether to make a decision on the issue;
c) Agree to examine the matter as part of a future scrutiny programme;
d) Adopt the issue raised by opposition business provided that the decision so made is within the policy framework and budget.
The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor McConville, set out his Opposition Business which asked the council to consider applying an exemption or discount on Council Tax for care leavers aged between 22 and 25.
Proposed by Councillor McConville,
Seconded by Councillor Prater, and
That Option (b) (Refer the issue to the cabinet or relevant overview and scrutiny committee, as the case may be for their observations before deciding whether to make a decision on the issue) be agreed for the business below;
To consider a report assessing the options
with the aim of exempting or significantly reducing the amount of
council tax due by young people, who have left the care of Kent
County Council between the ages of 22-25 who currently reside in
the district of Folkestone and Hythe.
(Voting figures: 28 for, 0 against, 1 abstentions).