Young people leaving local authority care in Worcestershire will not have to pay council tax until they are 21 if Worcestershire County Council has its way

Councillors at County Hall passed a motion this week which said: “This Council believes care leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt.

This Council resolves to underline its commitment to corporate parenting

and improving outcomes and requests Worcestershire’s six council tax billing

authorities to support the transition of care leavers who become council tax

payers by reducing their net liability for council tax under the national scheme and after

council tax support to zero, until the care

leaver’s21st birthday and introducing a transitional discretionary discount scheme to enable a reduction of liability for council tax up to and including zero from their 21st birthday until the care leaver's 25th birthday."

One of the sponsors of the motion Councilor Tom Baker-Price (C, Arrow Valley east) said: “We are sending a message… now is not the time for party politics but unite for the children.”

His fellow sponsor Councillor Jane Potter (C, Redditch South) added: “It is important that we support those young people in our care and ensure they have the best start in their independent lives.”

“Would we send our own children out into the world with little financial help? I don’t think so. It’s a very difficult time when starting and any help we can give to ease that transition into adulthood is to be recommended.”

While the original motion was passed, an amendment put forward by the Labour group, to make the plan a county-wide one, not reliant on individual district councils (who collect council tax) failed.

Cllr Baker-Price said: “I reject this amendment to our motion. We already have our colleagues in Wychavon and Wyre Forest leading the way in care leavers and the support they receive.A scrutiny exercise will be too little and will be too late.”

“This amendment will delay support to care leavers across our county just so Labour can claim they have done something. It is not helpful, it is not handy and it is not accepted.”

But Liberal Democrat councillor Fran Oborski (Kidderminster St Chads) said that it was a useful amendment: “It is absolutely essential that this scheme is adopted county-wide.

“If we can’t get an agreement right now that all the districts will be on board then this amendment is necessary. Whilst it’s great to write to the district councils, we need to follow it up with information and scrutiny power to make sure this gets done.”

The amendment was voted down and the county council will write to Worcestershire’s six district councils asking them to exempt care leavers from paying council tax.