Council tax exemption for care leavers in Dorset

Council tax exemption for care leavers in Dorset

Published by The Wessex FM News Team at 11:19am 7th October 2019.

Dorset care leavers may not have to pay council tax until the age of 25 – after Dorset Council decided to support a national campaign by the Children’s Society.

Depending on take-up it could a six-figure sum each year.

Dorset Council’s cabinet agreed on Tuesday that young people who have spent time in foster or residential care will be exempt from paying council tax until the age of 25 if they live alone, or given a 25 per cent discount if they live with someone else.

The Children’s Society say many care leavers get into debt because of a lack of support networks of family and friends; a lack of financial education while in care and because they are more likely to be the subject of benefit sanctions than other claimants.

Photo of Dorset County Hall night sign

Care leavers in Scotland and Wales are already exempt from council tax with 102 English authorities now signed up to the Children’s Society campaign.

Dorset Council has a parenting responsibility for 225 care leavers aged between 18 and 25. Of the 130 who live in Dorset almost half are in Weymouth and Portland.

In total 104 care leavers in the county are currently be liable for council tax which, if all claimed the exemption, could cost £46,500 a year.

Cllr Andrew Parry, portfolio holder for Children, Education and Early Help at Dorset Council, said that passing the exemption showed the council took its corporate parenting responsibility seriously:

“We have to look at ways of reducing the burden for these young people..if we can help them reduce their personal debt we should seek to do so.”

Finance brief holder Cllr Tony Ferrari also backed the move. He said:

"It would be foolish not to ease the next transition in their lives. If we were creating an obstacle we should take it away."

The exemption for care leavers will apply from April 2020.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter