This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.
Rare cross-party unity prevailed at Wednesday night's Derby City Council cabinet meeting after its members agreed to exempt care leavers, up to the age of 25, from paying council tax.
Presenting a report on the council tax exemption, Councillor Sara Bolton, cabinet member for children and young people and safeguarding, said: “This is the first of many steps we are taking to help care leavers.”
Currently, the Labour-led council has a statutory duty of care to care leavers until the age of 21, or 25 if they are in higher education.
This will extend to 25 for all care leavers following a change in the law from April this year.
Ms Bolton said: “A number of care leavers are exposed to significant financial obligations that when reliant on benefits or they have low incomes, can cause stress and hardship.
“Care leavers who enter apprenticeships or entry level employment do not receive a salary commensurate with the costs of living.”
The council tax exemption will apply to all eligible care leavers who live in Derby and also those who live outside the city boundary, providing they produce a council tax bill.
Care leavers do not pay council tax if they lives with parents, relatives or friends; are in supported lodgings or shared accommodation; are with their former foster carers or are in education.
At present, there are 167 care leavers known to the council and of these 130 are aged 18 to 21 - of those 28 live independently and are subject to council tax payments, although four are in full-time education.
This leaves 24 care leavers who will be immediately exempt under the new system and will cost the council - based on a band C property - £26,395 a year. But the longer-term projected ongoing cost per year for those eligible is an estimated £65,000.
Fellow cabinet member Councillor Martin Repton was the first to remark on the initiative.
He said: “This is excellent and progressive and it would be good to see other authorities nationally follow Derby’s example in a national campaign.
Councillor Matthew Holmes, council Conservative leader, added: “This is a very welcome move”.
And Liberal Democrat leader on the council Councillor Ruth Skelton remarked: “Youngsters leaving care do not have the bank of mum and dad to fall back on and do not have the advantages of other young people, so this is a good move.”
Other decisions at the council cabinet meeting at a glance:
Development of £6.4m Bold Lane office block
The wheels have been put in motion to build a £6.338 million office block in Bold Lane after the council cabinet gave it the go-ahead.
The project will be funded by borrowing but Councillor Martin Rawson, cabinet member for regeneration, told the meeting that rents from the businesses which take space will help with repayments eventually and be “self-sustaining”.
The cabinet approved an initial £654,000 to progress the scheme and a loan from the council’s regeneration fund to cover borrowing costs until the third year of operation.
The building will be sited next door to Sadler Gate Studios and if planning permission is given, construction could start this autumn and be completed in 2019/20.
The office block will lease entire floors to larger businesses and is expected to generate as many as 200 new jobs.
Adult social care fees and charges
The council cabinet approved a 3.8% increase for independent sector standard residential care, dementia care and nursing care weekly fee rates and also homecare services form April 2018.
Councillors also approved an hourly rate of £10.18 for care workers sleeping in to look after people in their homes.
They also approved an increase of 3% for all other services.
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