Greenwich Council agrees to exempt young care leavers from Council Tax

Greenwich Council has agreed to exempt young people leaving care from Council Tax up to the age of 25, following a proposal from Conservative councillors that will see around 450 young people save hundreds of pounds a year.

The policy was formally proposed by Conservative councillors at Woolwich Town Hall on Wednesday (29th March), eight months after the idea was first raised by Leader of the Opposition Matt Hartley. In February Labour councillors voted against the move as part of a wider package of opposition Budget measures in February, prompting the Conservatives to table the proposal in March to force the issue to a separate vote.

Labour councillors revealed they were willing to implement the policy shortly before the meeting, with the new Council Tax exemption coming into force in April 2018.

An analysis by national charity The Children’s Society, which has been campaigning for councils to adopt the idea across the country, shows that around 450 care leavers in Greenwich could benefit from the exemption. The campaign follows research from the Centre for Social Justice finding that 57 percent of young people find it difficult to manage their money and avoid debt when leaving care.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “I am delighted that from care leavers up to the age of 25 in Greenwich will not have to pay Council Tax from next April. Young people leaving care can be amongst the most vulnerable in our community – and we need to do everything we can to support them to manage their money, which can be a particular challenge.

“This is an example of policy that will have a big impact for a relatively small cost. I would like to thank The Children’s Society for all their work campaigning for this move, and I hope other many more councils in London and beyond will follow suit.”

Greenwich joins a growing list of councils to adopt the measure, including Cheshire East, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, North Somerset, Milton Keynes, Coventry and the London Boroughs of Islington and Hammersmith & Fulham.

Conservative councillors also used the meeting to praise the work of The Money House in Woolwich – a project set up by Hyde Housing and now run by charity MyBnk to help young tenants, including care leavers, to manage their bills and finances.