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Derbyshire councils join to support young care leavers

Published: 27 May 2021

It’s been just over a year since all eight district and borough councils, working closely with us, waived council tax for young people leaving care.

The waiving of council tax up to the age of 25 for all care leavers was part of a package of support to help them live independently and is the result of a successful partnership between us and all eight district and borough councils who agreed to the measure.

This project was started by Councillor Alex Dale, Cabinet Member for Education who said:

“I was so pleased that by working together with the district and borough councils we were able to get this initiative off the ground last year.

“Those leaving our care need all the help and support we can offer them, and I know from speaking to those involved it has made a real difference to them.”

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Safeguarding Councillor Julie Patten said:

“We were delighted that we were able to do this last year.

“I really wanted to revisit this and see if it had been a success as I believed very strongly that it was going to make such a difference to these young people’s lives as they move to independence, the feedback I’ve been getting has been excellent.”

Callum Holmes (23) left care when he was 19. He got an apprenticeship but found it a perpetual struggle to pay all his bills.

He said:

“I started on minimum wage and I found the council tax bill really high, on top of food and rent. To have my council tax waived was very helpful. I noticed the difference, having a bit of extra cash and I could save a bit and feel more secure.”

Karen Whitehead (23) said that having her council tax waived has made budgeting so much easier and given her the freedom to enjoy herself a little.

She said:

“I used to have no money left over after bills. Having a bit more money means I can buy things and save up for things now. I can focus on doing some of the things I want to do.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to do things that other people do.”

We have a responsibility as a ‘corporate parent’ for around 800 children in care and 300 young people aged up to the age of 25 leaving care, and a range of services and support is in place to help them lead safe, happy and fulfilled lives.

All 8 borough and district councils have signed up to give the council tax discount:

  • Amber Valley
  • Bolsover
  • Chesterfield
  • Derbyshire Dales
  • Erewash
  • High Peak
  • North East Derbyshire
  • South Derbyshire

They have also agreed to treat all applications from care leavers across Derbyshire for council accommodation as a priority, whichever borough or district they currently live in.

We will also match this council tax discount by funding full council tax discounts for any Derbyshire care leaver aged up to 25 who lives outside Derbyshire.

Councillor Patten said:

“Young people leaving care are widely recognised as being particularly vulnerable when they move to independent accommodation and have to manage their own budget fully for the first time.

“The challenges of living on their own for the first time, managing a household, continuing education or seeking employment as well as managing personal finances and paying bills is a lot to cope with. Seeing if we could do something about council tax seemed an obvious thing that we as councils working together could help with.

“We couldn’t have made this change without the goodwill and co-operation of our colleagues in the districts and borough councils.”

Derbyshire’s Care Leaver Offer for young people aged up to 25 includes:

  • council tax discount for young people leaving care
  • a new inter-borough and district housing offer, and support and guidance with accommodation
  • help to get into apprenticeships, work placements and work experience
  • a free leisure pass to help foster families, children in care and young people leaving care to get physically active through free access to borough and district council facilities and activities (covid-19 permitting)
  • a ‘Care Leaver Covenant’ – councils working together to develop a commitment to form a foundation from which to identify further measures to support children in care and care leavers across the county
  • support with marketing and publicity to help recruit Derbyshire foster carers