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Norfolk tables council tax exemption for care leavers

Care leavers in Norfolk could soon be exempt from paying council tax.

In a proposal to be discussed by councillors next week, Norfolk County Council’s children’s services committee will hear about the financial challenges faced by children and young people leaving care. Some of these young people struggle to live independently, often on low incomes.

According to Cllr Penny Carpenter, chair of the committee, the proposal has been explored for several months.

The proposal would see the local authority work closely with Norfolk’s district councils to provide a tax exemption for care leavers up to the age of 25.

It will be discussed at County Hall on 22 May, and would need to be agreed by the council’s policy and resources committee.

District councils would then need to decide whether to implement the discount as collecting and filing authorities, but according to the county council, all of the district authorities have been approached and are open to the proposal.

If given the go-ahead. the county council would forgo its share of council tax and would work with the seven district councils and the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner to agree that they bear their share of the discount.

Committee members will also hear about progress in developing new semi-independent accommodation to support up to 24 care leavers aged 16 and 17.

The council has committed £5m to develop housing for young care leavers and has now identified three of its own properties that can be renovated. It’s working to buy a further two as well as find an additional six across the county.

Each of the units will have 24/7 support available and will be closely monitored to ensure that the young people are safe and achieving their potential.

It is hoped that five of the 11 additional semi-independent units will be operational by the end of the year, with the remaining six units coming on-stream during 2019.

Carpenter said: “As our care leavers approach adulthood many of them want to move on and live independently. All teenagers need support to do this and those who have been in care can find the transition particularly challenging.”

“We want to make sure there we have good placements across the county, with round-the-clock support available. This was a manifesto commitment and I am pleased to see progress being made to make this a reality.” 


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