Tax break plan for young Sheffield care leavers

Councillor Alison Teal.
Councillor Alison Teal.

Hundreds of young people leaving care in Sheffield could be exempt from having to pay council tax under new proposals.

The Sheffield Green Party is campaigning for youngsters leaving care at age 18 to be given a tax break until they reach the age of 25.

Councillor Douglas Johnson.

Councillor Douglas Johnson.

They have tabled a motion for the proposal which is due to be discussed by councillors next month.

If approved, this would mean around 440 young care leavers in the city - who have been cared for by the council following concerns about their welfare at home - would be exempt from paying tax in the future.

Sheffield would also join more than 60 other local authorities who have already taken the tax exemption step.

This follows a national campaign by the Children's Society to highlight how many youngsters find themselves in financial difficulty after leaving care due to a range of complex factors.

Nether Edge and Sharrow councillor Alison Teal said: "Getting into council tax arrears can mean fines, court summons and bailiffs. Young people who have left foster care or care homes need time and space to gain skills around managing money.

"They might not have the same support from family as many other people the same age but that’s where the council can help. Exempting young care leavers from council tax is just giving a bit more support where it’s really needed.”

City ward councillor Douglas Johnson added: "This is an investment in a particularly vulnerable group where poor outcomes in future would mean council and social health services having to step in at far greater expense.

"The exemption would also underline the corporate parental responsibility that Sheffield Council has for care leavers, giving them a fairer start in life."

The Greens accepted that the exemption might lead to lost revenue of around £75, 000 for the authority but argued the actual amount is likely to be lower, given the difficulty some care leavers have with paying.

They claimed the investment would also lead to savings in some areas as it would lead to fewer cases where housing and social services staff have to step in.

The Greens added that a report by The Children’s Society found that when care leavers move into independent accommodation they often find it extremely challenging to manage their own budgets for the first time due to a lack of family support and limited financial education.

The motion will be discussed at the next full council meeting at Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday, February 7, from 5pm.