Council tax exemption declared for all care leavers in Wigan Borough

Council tax exemption declared for all care leavers in Wigan Borough

James Winterbottom with care leavers

James Winterbottom, director of children and young people's services, (at the far end head of table) at a Christmas dinner with care leavers.

Young adults who have left care are to be exempt from paying council tax in Wigan Borough.

Wigan Council’s cabinet this week approved plans to exempt anyone aged between 18 and 21 who has previously been cared for by Wigan Council from paying council tax.   

It is hoped the move will help support care leavers to establish independence and reduce the risk of these young people from getting into debt and rent arrears at this crucial time in their life.

The change has been introduced by the council immediately and will be back-dated to April.

Care leavers in full time education up to the age of 25 are already exempt.

James Winterbottom, Wigan Council’s director for children’s services, said: “Care leavers are among the most vulnerable groups in our community but also have many individual skills and talents that benefit our communities in many ways and we want to make sure that we support them to make best use of these.

“As corporate parents and through our commitment in The Deal the council wants to ensure that young people’s experiences of leaving care and moving into independent living are positive and improve their life chances – just as any parent does.

“We are proud to have introduced this change and know through speaking with our young care leavers and through the research available that this will make a big difference to their lives.”

Wigan Council supports young people though the Deal for Children and Young People and its children and young people’s service was rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted earlier this year.

Most children who come into care have experienced complex trauma and faced significant challenges early in life.

National research shows that care leavers often experience debt and arrears of rent, council tax, household bills and transport costs and feel insufficiently prepared for independent living when they left care.

Care leavers are often in a position where the transition from care to independent living is swift and at a younger age than their peers.

There are 142 care leavers aged between 18 and 21 living in Wigan Borough and the exemption will currently directly affect 31 care leavers in the borough who are paying council tax.

Posted on Friday 8th December 2017

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