Care leavers win exemption from council tax

Care

The move makes it easier for young people to afford accommodation 

11th October 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Plans to exempt care leavers from council tax will boost the care sector, campaigners say.  

Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP's annual conference that the Scottish Government would halt payments for those leaving care until they had made firm foundations in their tenancies.

Council tax powers, including exemptions, are determined through national legislation by the Scottish Government, namely the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

At the moment authorities don’t have delegated powers to exempt care leavers from paying council tax.

Organisations have been campaigning to get the Scottish Government to change legislation to allow local authorities to grant these exemptions, which Sturgeon has now committed to. 

A spokesperson from campaigning alliance, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, said the move was welcome as young people struggled with budgets after leaving care settings.  

“We are delighted to see Nicola Sturgeon announcing that the Scottish Government will legislate to ensure young care leavers will be exempt from council tax,” the spokesperson said.

“When a young person leaves care and moves in to independent accommodation, they begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time.

“They find themselves grappling with the challenges of living independently; managing a household, continuing education or seeking employment, as well as managing their personal finances and paying household bills for the first time - often without the support of family or previous financial education to help them navigate this.

“The issue of financial hardship and the impact of poverty on care leavers is well documented. Care leavers are particularly vulnerable when it comes to financial hardship."

Campaigners say council tax debt can be a particularly frightening experience for this group of vulnerable young people. 

What can start out for many care leavers as falling slightly behind can very quickly escalate to a court summons and enforcement action being taken.

The spokesperson added: “To exempt their care leavers from council tax payments is a very positive step in addressing the very real issues of poverty and debt which blight the lives of far too many of our care leavers

“It is a great example of corporate parenting in action at both national and local level, and one which we as a coalition fully support.”

Matthew Reed, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said: “We’ve been campaigning for all care leavers to be exempt from council tax so we are delighted to hear that this exemption will be introduced in Scotland."

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