FROM April next year care leavers under the age of 21 will no longer have to pay council tax after Redditch Borough councillors agreed to make changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme.
Councillors at the Executive Committee on Tuesday confirmed their commitment to introducing reforms at the earliest opportunity – which will be 2019.
The scheme was moved by Redditch Borough Councillor Tom Baker-Price (Con, Headless Cross & Oakenshaw).
It laid out plans which will see the net liability for council tax reduced to zero until the care leavers 21st birthday.
Further changes to the scheme mean the council will provide transitional support for care leavers, enabling a reduction in liability for council tax up to and including zero between their 21st and 25th birthday.
Council officers whose roles includes supporting care leavers experiencing council tax debt, will also be provided with training on corporate parenting.
Additional measures will be explored to support care leavers to achieve financial independence.
Coun Baker-Price said: “The exact cost of the scheme is hard to identify at this moment.
“But we estimate about £1,430 based on the latest figures.”
However Councillor Greg Chance (Lab, Central Ward) called the report ‘half-baked’ and ‘rushed’ which were later denied by Coun Baker-Price.
“I don’t see a plan we are implementing six months late in full without amendment as half-baked.”
Whilst the Council Tax Support Scheme was agreed – the amendments suggested to the hardship policy will be subject to the Full Council’s agreement next month.
In the interim, the Council Tax Support Hardship Policy could be amended to ensure care leavers won’t pay any pay council tax until their 25th birthday providing they have left Worcestershire County Council care and are living independently.
Coun Tom Baker-Price said: “The costs of the interim support will be £10,300 and will be funded by the council’s hardship funds.
“The committee has recommended this to full council then once passed in September I have been assured by officers it will be implemented straight away.”