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Bromley urged to give care leavers a fairer start

PUBLISHED: 11:36 24 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:36 24 December 2019

CEO of the charity Children's Society Mark Russell. Picture: Children's Society

CEO of the charity Children's Society Mark Russell. Picture: Children's Society

Archant

Bromley Council is being urged to give care leavers a fairer start for their future.

The plea comes from the Children's Charity and the Children's Commissioner.

They are jointly asking the council to do more to help vulnerable looked-after children manage their finances.

The Children's Society and Commissioner Anne Longfield have written jointly to Councillor Colin Smith asking him to make children leaving care exempt from paying council tax until the age of 25.

The idea is part of The Children's Society campaign A fairer start for care leavers.

The scheme calls on all local councils to free care leavers from the burden of council tax charges.

It is claimed that so far more than 100 councils have already introduced some form of exception, but Bromley is not one of them.

The charity says its research found care leavers are particularly susceptible to council tax debt.

CEO of the charity Mark Russell said: "We know many of these young people won't have been taught how to manage their money and don't have families to turn to if they get into difficulty. Moving into independent accommodation is often the first time they will have to manage all their financial responsibilities.

"By granting an exemption, councils will be showing their support at this crucial time. It will also reduce the chances of them getting into debt and facing consequences, such as demand letters, potential court summons and even homelessness."

There are around 310 young people living in the Bromley area who could benefit from this change.

And Ms Longfield added: "I want to see every council in England which hasn't already exempted care leavers from paying council tax to do so as quickly as possible."

Councillor Graham Arthur, executive member for resources, said: "Care leavers in Bromley are given a range of targeted assistance tailored for their individual needs, on a one to one basis in a manner which reflects their specific requirements and they are delivered with sensitivity. That is the way to provide assistance, with privacy and dignity, not by seeking to separate them from the world in which they will play a full part."


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