Barnet Council is set to introduce a policy which will offer council tax relief to care leavers up to the age of 25.
Hendon Town Hall
The paper went before the Policy & Resources Committee on 13 February, in which members voted in favour of authorising the Deputy Chief Executive to consult on the policy before submitting it at a future committee meeting for approval.
The policy will offer council tax relief to care leavers up to age 25 for their first two years of independent living. Care leavers experiencing financial difficulties after the initial period will also be eligible for relief. Financial help would be available to care leavers living outside of Barnet.
Nationally, one in three care leavers have problems paying their bill and are being forced to sacrifice basic necessities in life to pay Council Tax. By providing these exemptions the council will give care leavers the additional support required to help prepare them for independence.
Councillor Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “There are currently more than 200 care leavers in Barnet, many of whom have experienced challenges in childhood and adolescents. When care leavers move to living independently, it is often their first experience of having to manage a budget on their own.
“Financial pressures stemming from Council Tax and daily living costs, can adversely affect the mental health and employment prospects for our care leavers. All parents want to help their children as they take their first steps towards living independently – and the council, as the corporate parent to children in care, is no different. The policy being proposed will help make the transition from being in care to becoming independent a much smoother process.”
The council currently uses discretionary funds to provide council tax relief for care leavers and is aiming to make the policy formal following consultation. Being able to provide these funds for care leavers forms part of the overall vision to ensure Barnet is the most ‘Family Friendly’ borough in London by 2020.
Barnet Council aims to support all children and young people to achieve the best in their childhood, adolescence and adulthood. As part of its vision to be the most ‘Family Friendly’ borough, the council aims to deliver positive outcomes for care leavers as committed to in Barnet’s Corporate Parent Pledge for Children in Care and Care Leavers and the Care Leaver Strategy 2017-2020.