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Brentwood Labour Group to introduce council tax support for care leavers

06 Nov Brentwood Labour Group to introduce council tax support for care leavers

Labour Group Leader, Councillor Gareth Barrett, has put forward a motion to support care leavers in Brentwood as they transition from care to adult life. In order to mitigate the chances of care leavers falling into debt as they begin to manage their own finances, the proposals would see them exempt from paying council tax until they are 25.

The motion support research by The Children’s Society which found that council tax debt is a particular issue for care leavers. What can start out for many as falling slightly behind can very quickly escalate to a court summons and enforcement action being taken. Further research by the Centre for Social Justice found that more than half (57%) of young people leaving care have difficulty managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care.

The motion tabled at this week’s meeting will ask the Council to exempt care leavers in the Borough of Brentwood from council tax at the earliest opportunity.

Cllr Gareth Barret, Labour Group Leader, said:

“The number one function of a local council is to provide support to its residents, especially when they are in times of need. For those young people who have left the care system, they will be starting an independent life for the first time, many of which need additional support. Our motion follows The Children’s Societies’ campaign and will give those leaving the care the best start to life in Brentwood.

“Across our borough, we have an estimated 1230 young people who have left the care of Essex County Council. Brentwood Labour Party’s proposal will exempt them from council tax until they are 25. We feel this is a small step by the council which will offer an enormous amount of help for young people across Brentwood who are starting the next phase of their lives.”

Liam Preston, Brentwood Labour Party, said:

“We can all remember the first time we left home, or started work or college, or began managing our own budgets. Each one on their own is a right of passage through life and not something that many get right the first time around. However, for those leaving care, these events can occur at the same time and without any family support to lean on. We know that more than half of young people moving from the care system into independent living experience issues managing their finances, often resulting in debt and when worse, court summons.

“Having worked closely with care leavers I have seen first-hand the difference that the right support can have during difficult times. That’s why I have championed this initiative in Brentwood to enable Brentwood Council to provide a helping hand for those most in need in our town and to give them an opportunity to transition to independence successfully.”