YOUNG adults in Portsmouth who are leaving care should be exempt from paying council tax, a city councillor has said.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday (Oct 16) Portsmouth South MP and Charles Dickens councillor Stephen Morgan will ask his peers to consider exempting care leavers in the city from paying council tax until the age of 25.
Portsmouth City Council still holds responsibility for those who used to be in care between the ages of 18 and 25. There were 153 on the books in March this year.
Mr Morgan explained why the motion should be considered. 'We need to give Portsmouth’s care leavers a fair start,' he said.
'Those leaving care can be especially vulnerable to financial hardship, with many living on their own from the age of 18, a very different experience to most others their age.
'This exemption would ease the burden, stave off problem debt, and most importantly, give care leavers time to find their feet. Our city needs to support all of its young people and help them build solid foundations for their futures.'
The council's head of children and families, Cllr Rob Wood, was in support. He said. 'Currently we have an ambition to improve the offer to care leavers.
'I think this is a good idea that we need to explore to see if we can fund it and put together some kind of package for care leavers.'
To date 88 local authorities across England have given care leavers council tax exemption. This affected more than 28,000 individuals.
Sam Royston, director of policy at the Children’s Society, was grateful for the backing of Mr Morgan. He added: 'Care leavers have often experienced a really difficult upbringing and they may have experienced abuse, neglect or family breakdown which can have a big impact upon their life chances.
'Without the family support most young people get as they become adults, care leavers often struggle to juggle their household bills and make ends meet. Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other basic necessities.
'To expect some of the country’s most vulnerable young people to start paying council tax just days after leaving care is setting them up to fail.
'We are delighted that Portsmouth City Council is to consider introducing an exemption and would urge councillors to press ahead and do so.'
The notion also asks the council to write to neighbouring local authorities to consider making the exemption policy. It will be discussed on Tuesday, October 16.