Care leavers in Manchester will be exempt from paying any Council Tax until they reach the age of 25 under proposals being considered by councillors.
A report to the Council's Executive outlines plans to give young people living in Manchester who have previously been in care a discount of 100 per cent on their council tax until they turn 25.
It follows the decision taken by the council last July to exempt all care-leavers living in the city from paying council tax up to the age of 21.
Since agreeing this approach last year there have been further developments in terms of the support offered to care leavers in the city, including a decision to set up a new wholly council-owned company to deliver a bespoke leaving care service to all our care leavers. Legislation that came into force in April also extends the support available to care-leavers, including giving them the right to ask for a personal assistant up until the age of 25.
In line with these developments, under the Council's latest proposal any young person living in Manchester who has been in care for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and who was in care on their 16th birthday would now be exempt from paying council tax until their 25th birthday.
Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources, Manchester City Council, said:
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.’
They also take on board the findings of a 2015 report by the Children’s Society ‘The Wolf at the Door - how council tax debt collection is harming children’ that care leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt.
In addition to this care-leavers nationally have also consistently reported that they were insufficiently prepared for the realities of living independently, particularly in relation to budgeting.
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.
The Council is currently responsible for 750 care leavers, and it is estimated that there are around 250 additional young people aged 21 -25 years of age.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Families, Manchester City Council, said: