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September 2023

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Published on 27 September 2023

Executive to discuss package of support for care leavers

Teignbridge Executive councillors will be considering ways to create better life chances for care leavers next week (3 October) including health, employment and financial support. 

The councillors responsible for key areas of service delivery will put forward a package of measures for the full council’s endorsement later this month. 

These include a council tax support offer incorporating a council tax discount; free membership to council-run leisure centres; and work experience opportunities. 

Under existing legislation councils have a responsibility to take on the role of ‘corporate parents’ of young people in care or leaving care. These ensure that their physical and mental health and wellbeing needs are met, their voice is heard and considered; they’re able to access council services; they are kept safe and given stability; and that they’re given the best chance to reach their full potential in adulthood. 

Teignbridge Council has undertaken to work with Devon County Council and other Devon District Councils to provide a support offer for Care Leavers and if ‘in principle’ approval is given to the proposal the final policy will be given to Full Council for approval prior to implementation. 

Council Leader Martin Wrigley said: “We recognise the challenges young people leaving care face, and the inequity many of them experience in finding somewhere to live, getting a job, and looking after their physical and mental health. 

“We're pleased to be collaborating with our county and district neighbours to provide this package of support for care leavers across the county which will, we hope, give them a bit of a helping hand on their journey into the next phase of their lives.” 

If all districts agree to the proposals, the Council will award a council tax discretionary discount of 100% up to the care leaver’s 25th birthday. The discount will be awarded after the entitlement to all other discounts and exemptions has been assessed. The discount will only apply to care leavers living in Devon, with Devon County Council supporting the approximately 269 care leavers who live outside of the county. 

Cllr Wrigley added: “By taking a uniform approach, we will be supporting all Devon care leavers by implementing a scheme which does not stigmatise them and provides a simple process which means all care leavers can access support.” 

There are currently around 89 care leavers living in Teignbridge. Of these, 31 have a council tax liability to pay amounting to £19,000. 

The report to Executive says: “Care leavers are considered a particularly vulnerable group for Council Tax debt. Moving to independent accommodation and managing their finances for the first time is challenging, as care leavers do so without the family support and the wider network that most young people can rely on, and indeed take for granted. 

“By awarding a discretionary council tax discount, we can help care leavers manage the transition to adulthood offering financial assistance as many parents do as their children move toward independence. 

“In order to ensure uniformity of approach, the Devon billing authorities (district councils) have been working with Devon County Council to devise a common Council Tax discount scheme which is proposed to be effective at the earliest opportunity.” 

In recognition of the positive impact of physical activity on physical and mental health, the Council is also proposing to offer a leisure subscription free of charge to Care Leavers up to the age of 25, which would provide access equivalent to the ‘Jam Packed’ membership, providing access to pools, classes, gym, courts, sauna and steam. 

And to boost the potential for work experience and employment opportunities for young people leaving care, Teignbridge will look at ways it can offer work experience opportunities for young people up to age 25 on a case-by-case basis. 

Following discussion by the Executive, their final proposals will be put to Full Council for approval.