Peterborough city councillors have rejected a proposal to exempt care leavers from council tax in favour of proposing to central government that it implements a national scheme.
Care leavers are any adult who has spent time in care as a child under the age of 18. Such care can be in foster care, residential care – which is mainly children’s homes – or other arrangements made outside the immediate or extended family.
Members of the cabinet met at the Town Hall on Monday to receive the proposal from Lou Williams, service director for children and safeguarding, who said: “Councils have requested whether care leavers in their responsibility should be exempt from paying council tax to at least the age of 21.”
However, Cllr Sam Smith, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The disadvantages of this proposal outweigh the benefits, as there is currently a lack of any national coordinated approach.
“If Peterborough City Council were to grant an exemption to care leavers living in the city who were previously in care, there would be a risk of challenge by care leavers placed by other local authorities in the city, who might successfully argue that they should be just as eligible for some exemption.”
Mr Williams added: “We have to be seen to be doing the right thing here, and in this case that is to adopt the approach being taken by other local authorities.
“I suggest in the absence of any national scheme the council reject this proposal, and instead write to central government to suggest the implementation of just such a national scheme which would provide some level of exemption from council tax to all vulnerable young people and adults, up to the age of 25, who are living away from home.”
Councillors agreed to reject the proposal, in favour of writing to central government.
Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service