Blackpool to help care leavers pay their bills

Care leavers are to get help with their council tax billx
Care leavers are to get help with their council tax billx
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Youngsters leaving care are to be given a financial boost to help them when they move into their own homes.

Youngsters leaving care are to be given a financial boost to help them when they move into their own homes.

Blackpool Council has agreed to contribute towards council tax bills for young people aged between 16 and 21 who are leaving the care system.

In return, they will be expected to attend training sessions on money management and responsible tenancy.

It is hoped the move, which will cost the council around £7,000 a year, will help young people settle more easily into independent living without falling into debt.

The policy has been recommended to town hall leaders by the Children's Society and around a third of councils in England have taken steps to exempt care leavers from council tax until the age of 25.

But Blackpool has decided to taper payments instead of adopting a full exemption in order to teach young people responsibility when it comes to paying their bills.

Director of children's services Diane Booth says in a council report that when care leavers move into their own homes and manage their own budgets for the first time, they can fall into council tax debt.

Mrs Booth adds "what can start out for many as falling slightly behind can very quickly escalate to a court summons and enforcement action being taken."

Her report says: "By supporting the tenancy and providing effective money management, it is anticipated the number of potential tenancy breakdowns would reduce with a corresponding reduction in expensive alternatives and start-again arrangements being required."

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will be fully exempt from paying any council tax, but then they will pay bills starting at £200 and going up to £900 from the ages of 18 to 21.

The payments will be met from the Children's Services budget.