Council tax waived for Lewisham care leavers

Lewisham Civic Suite Pic: N Chadwick

Care leavers up to the age of 25 will receive a 100 per cent discount on council tax in Lewisham, the council has agreed.

The discount will come into effect from April 1 next year. The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, approved the recommendation at a council meeting last week.

The term ‘care leavers’ refers to any adult who spent time in care as a child, whether in foster care, residential care or other arrangements outside the immediate or extended family.

Lewisham council identified young care leavers as a particularly vulnerable group over the financial burden of council tax. Often the move to independent accommodation is the first time care leavers begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time.

Sir Steve  told Labour Councillor Joan Millbank, Cabinet member for the Third Sector: “It would be perverse if I didn’t agree with the discount.”

Linda Briheim-Crookall, head of policy and practice development at Coram Voice, a national charity for children in care and young care leavers, told ELL: “We know from our research that care leavers often struggle to manage their money. Many have to manage bills and rent on a low income at an age when most of their peers still live at home, which can be incredibly stressful.

“It is amazing that so many cope, but some end up in debt and miss out on the opportunities that other young people have.  Young people who live at home with their parents do not pay council tax and by exempting care leavers the council is stepping up and saying, as your parent, we will do the same for you.

“We really welcome Lewisham’s step and hope all councils will do the same.”

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