Vulnerable young people leaving care to live on their own in Bath and North East Somerset won’t have to pay council tax until they are aged 25, under plans approved by B&NES Council’s Cabinet.
In addition, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s foster carers, living and looking after children in the area, will also get a 25 per cent reduction in their council tax bills.
The recommendations, which were approved by the Council’s Cabinet, have also won support across all parties at a recent meeting of the full Council.
The Council is currently providing a service to 80 care leavers aged between 18 and 21, and of those 18 are liable to pay some amount of council tax; with 15 of those qualifying for some welfare benefit to pay it and three having to pay the full amount.
It will cost around £6,600 to apply the 100 per cent discretionary allowance for these leavers. In addition there are a further 80 care leavers aged 21-25 entitled to the council tax relief if still living in Bath and North East Somerset.
Councillor Paul May (Conservative, Publow and Whitchurch), Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Young care leavers, who have been our responsibility rather than their parents, are among the most vulnerable groups in our community.
“It is up to us to keep them safe and to support them. This is one way of doing that by taking away a financial burden and avoiding it becoming a problem debt.”
Bath & North East Somerset Council already has a Council Tax Support Scheme to help people on low income as well as Hardship payments for people who need additional support so any Care Leavers or Foster Carer’s scheme will be in addition to Council Tax Support if a balance remains payable.
Councillor May added: “Corporate parenting is a statutory function of the Council and as such we want the same outcomes for young people in care that every good parent would want for their children.
“We value the support of the many foster carers who help look after children and young people and so we are pleased to offer our foster carers a 25 per cent reduction in council tax.
“Local foster parents are often able to give better care for children that need care in Bath and North East Somerset so we’re supporting this initiative to help with recruiting and retaining foster careers locally.”
The Council’s Fostering Team, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted, currently has 64 households who provide fostering services to our children and 39 of these are within Bath and North East Somerset.
The scheme for council tax relief can only apply to council tax payers resident in Bath and North East Somerset, however the Council is keen to work with neighbouring authorities to consider a similar approach because many care leavers live outside the B&NES area.
To discover more about fostering with Bath & North East Somerset Council, go to the website and find out how you could make a real difference to a child’s life: https://fostering.bathnes.gov.uk/.