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Moving to Give Folkestone and Hythe Care Leavers the Best Possible Start

Fair Council TaxA motion to the 21st October Folkestone and Hythe District Council meeting proposed by Labour Group Leader Connor McConville calling to look at options for reduced or zero Council Tax for Care Leavers aged 22-25 in Folkestone and Hythe was passed tonight by 28 votes for with one absention.

The motion was passed unamended and is at https://www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/moderngov/mgAi.aspx?ID=13650

The motion was seconded by Lib Dem Councillor and Cabinet Member for Revenues and Benefits Tim Prater.

In seconding the motion, Tim said:

"I'm delighted to second this motion, and if its passed, to carry through the recommendations as the responsible Cabinet Member.

"A Cabinet member seconding Opposition Business is unorthodox, but as I am often reminded, this is a different sort of Council these days.

"Earlier this year, Kent County Council accepted the position that they would fund Council Tax payments for 18-21 year old care leavers. That is to their credit, but clearly not everyone is up and running fully by the age of 21.

"I know that applies to people of any background, but those in care have had additional challenges, and have become our responsibility. And there WILL still be some people that by the age of 21 do still need additional support beyond that time.

"It's wrong to generalise: some care leavers will fly at the age of 18, and some may take longer to do so. Some - maybe many - won't either need or want our help. We have a duty as a corporate parent not to offer an equality of outcome, but an equality of opportunity to succeed. If we can help those over the age of 21 who need us, we should.

"I've looked at examples of district councils across the country offering some support - in varying ways and to varying amounts - to those aged 22 to 25. I've spoken to colleagues on one district council that put a support scheme in place from this April, and about the number of people that they are now supporting under that policy.

"Having done so, I'm confident that we can design and bring forward a scheme that is affordable. We all know there are going to be a lot of people that need our help in the coming months. We'll want to do our best for them all. But in this one specific instance, I'm confident that we can go further and offer that additional helping hand to those that need it most without breaking the budget.

"What this motion calls for isn't prescriptive.

"In discussing this motion with Connor in advance, its clear we have a common goal. I'm more than happy for a report to come back to Cabinet on ways that we can exempt or significantly reduce Council Tax for those care leavers in the district aged 22-25 that need it.

"Next week is National Care Leavers Week. This motion is timely and well intended, and help make the transition to independent living for those struggling to do so by the age of 22 a little easier. I'm happy to support the motion, and to respond positively to the challenge it offers us."