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MOLE VALLEY DISTRICT COUNCIL - 4th Dec 2018

Cllr Joe Crome's speech on Care Leavers

Joe at NLCCAs mentioned, the evidence within this motion originates from recent reports conducted by the Children's Society and The Centre for Social Justice, which serve as a reminder to us all about how hard it can be for care leavers to transition into independent accommodation.

I am calling on Mole Valley District Council to follow the recommendations of the Children's Society and fulfill our responsibilities as corporate parents by taking young care leavers out of council tax until they turn 25.

When a young person leaves care and moves in to independent accommodation, they begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time.

They find themselves grappling with the challenges of living independently; managing a household, continuing education or seeking employment, as well as managing their personal finances and paying household bills for the first time - often without the support of family or previous financial education to help them navigate this.

I think Central and local government must do much more to support young care leavers. It is completely unacceptable that 20% of young homeless people have previously been in care, 24% of the adult prison population have been in care, 70% of sex workers have been in care and only 6% of care leavers are in higher education at 19.

I now speak from my own experiences. I was one of the lucky ones. Having spent most of the first 6 months of my life in foster care, I was fortunate to have my life changed by a family who adopted me. Not everyone is so lucky. Care leavers often do not have the supportive networks that others do, and The Centre for Social Justice found that 57% of young people find it difficult managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care. This is further reinforced by research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that outlines how 'accumulation of debt, threats to their tenancies and their inability to avoid this through careful budgeting' were issues of continuing concern for care leavers.

I ask Members tonight to consider this information and join numerous other local authorities across the country, including our colleagues in Woking, to back this proposal to exempt care leavers under the age of 25 from council tax.