Young people leaving care in Hammersmith and Fulham will be exempt from paying council tax payments until their 25th birthday.
In a landmark decision, the council is the first in London to scrap the payment, saying it wants to relieve some of the pressure care leavers are under.
The move has been welcomed by the Children’s Society, which 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.”
Cllr Sue Fennimore, cabinet member for social inclusion, said: “Young people in care have often had traumatic experiences and find it more difficult than most to adjust to living by themselves.
“Exempting them from council tax will give them the vital breathing space they need as they establish their new, independent adult lives.”
Children’s Society policy director, Sam Royston, praised the decision,adding: “Without the family safety net that most children benefit from as they become adults, many new care leavers struggle to open a bank account, let alone juggle their household bills and plan financially for the long-term.
“We urge other councils across the capital to follow Hammersmith and Fulham's lead and give care leavers a better chance of a fair start in life.”
The council say tax exemption is part of a range of measures by Hammersmith and Fulham to help care leavers. The measures include:
- Extending Hammersmith and Fulham's council’s duty to support all care leavers up to the age of 25, rather than the current 21 for those not in full-time education.
- Enabling young people to stay with their foster carers after the age of 18.
- A care leavers’ team which mentor young people, helping them as they begin their independent lives.
- A care leavers’ hub offering them housing, legal advice and other support until the age of 25.
- An online school offering a wide range of courses and qualifications.
- Securing more affordable and local homes for care leavers.
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