Shadow Local Government secretary, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, will today call for funding to be provided to local authorities to ensure council tax relief is given to young people who have left care.
Welsh Conservatives would introduce the discount to help address some of the hardships those leaving care as a child face as an adult. From difficulties attaining their educational and employment potentials, to needing help with their mental health, care leavers also face an overwhelming task managing the cost of living – of which council tax is the highest bill they have.
The relief would cost the Welsh Government approximately £2 million per year – around 0.01% of the government’s £15.5bn budget this year – and will support care leavers up to the age of 21.
In Wales, there are around 6,000 who are designated as “looked after” by local authorities. This is a rate of 254 per 10,000 children under 18 years old and, of these, 55% were boys and 45% were girls.
In Wales, eight councils – including, most recently, the Conservative-led Vale of Glamorgan – have paved the way to providing council tax exemptions to care leavers in Wales. This position has also been adopted by roughly 70 councils in England.
Yet this is not the case right across Wales, with care leavers facing a postcode lottery as to whether they will receive an exemption.
Calling on the Welsh Government to provide the funding, Janet Finch-Saunders, AM for Aberconwy, said:
“Those who leave care are some of the most vulnerable in our society, but there is so much potential for them to succeed in life with just a bit of extra help.
“Using powers to discount their council tax leaves more money in their pocket that they can then put to good use towards transport or expanding their education.
“This policy costs a tiny fraction of Wales’s budget, but will have a big impact on care leavers’ lives.
“So today, I’m pleased to announce a Welsh Conservative-led Government would commit to making council tax relief for care leavers an integral part of our local government policy platform, so councils can focus on helping their residents, not needless and imposed mergers.”