PEOPLE leaving the care of Carmarthenshire County Council when they reach adulthood could soon be exempt from paying council tax until their 21st birthday.
Cllr Glynog Davies, executive board member for education and children’s services, today (January 10, 2018) asked council to support a notice of motion to exempt all care leavers from council tax until the age of 21, or 25 in exceptional circumstances.
He was unanimously supported by councillors across all parties, and a policy will now be written and brought back to full council to be formally adopted.
Cllr Davies said: “Care leavers who were looked after by the local authority are amongst the most vulnerable groups in our community. As a part of our corporate parenting role, we believe that Carmarthenshire County Council should aim to keep young people safe and improve their life chances. We have a have a duty to care leavers.
“We believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that, when young people make the transition from care to adult life, the process is as smooth as possible and that we should do all we can to mitigate the changes that often result in care leavers falling into debt as they begin to manage their own finances.”
Leader of the opposition Labour group, said: “I welcome this motion. It certainly raises how important it is that we recognise the difficulties of all children and young people in our communities. I hope this is just the start.”
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales recently reported that many care leavers have to survive on as little as £8 a day, with council tax their biggest outgoing cost after rent.
Last year, 77 young people (aged 16 or over) left the care of Carmarthenshire County Council and began the transition out of care and into adulthood.
Young people leaving care are defined as young people who are entitled to support if they have been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and were in care on their 16th birthday.
People failing to pay their council tax bill can find themselves being subjected to recovery and enforcement action, although in proven cases of hardship local authorities can potentially assist through discretionary policies.
To watch the full debate and access the agenda documents about this discussion at Full Council, visit the council and democracy section of the council’s website –www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales