Doncaster Council axes council tax for young care leavers

Care leavers could be exempt from Council Tax in Doncaster, under plans by Doncaster Council, based at the Civic Offices.
Care leavers could be exempt from Council Tax in Doncaster, under plans by Doncaster Council, based at the Civic Offices.

Doncaster Council is expected become the first authority in Yorkshire to waive council tax for young adults leaving its care.

Mayor Ros Jones and her cabinet is expected to approve plans at their next meeting on Tuesday September 5.

The exemption will be in place for young people leaving the care of Doncaster Council until the age of 25, and is designed to help those still living in the borough through the transition from care to independence. They will have to apply for the exemption.

The move comes following research from The Children’s Society which highlighted how young care leavers are vulnerable to financial pressures, particularly when entering independent accommodation for the first time. They are dealing with paying bills and managing personal finances for the first time, often without support from family or previous knowledge to help them.

Doncaster Council has worked alongside Doncaster Children’s Services Trust on the proposed exemption, which would come into effect from April 1, 2018.

According to Doncaster Children's Services Trust figures from May 2017 there were 66 young people up to the age of 25 who left care in the borough and were liable for council tax.

Coun Nuala Fennelly, council cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “I’m proud that Doncaster will become the first local authority in Yorkshire to provide this Council Tax exemption to our care leavers. It’s vital that we support our young people in the often difficult transition period where they leave care and begin to live on their own. We want to make that passage as smooth as possible and provide a better chance of them avoiding debt problems in the future.

“It’s important to make it clear that just because a care leaver has turned 18 it doesn’t mean we will no longer assist and support them. As corporate parents we want to do what any other family would and help provide the best start in adult life; this exemption will allow young care leavers some valuable years in learning to help manage their finances.”

Paul Moffat, chief executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust said, “Hearing first-hand from our care leavers about the challenges they face when they leave care, I am delighted that through our work with Doncaster Council we have been able to bring in this Council Tax exemption.

“This is great news for our care leavers. It will not only provide them with the additional support they deserve as they make the move into independent living but also make life a little easier as they learn to manage their finances.”

Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society said: "“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."