Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Children and Social Work Act (2017) implemented on 1st April 2018, places corporate parenting responsibilities on district councils for the first time, requiring them to have regard to children in care and care leavers when carrying out their functions. Councils have the power to introduce exemptions for council tax for certain groups under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
Corporate Parenting is a statutory function of the Council with the underlying principle that every local authority will seek the same outcomes for children and young people in care that every good parent would want for their own children; for example, successful transition to young adulthood and financial independence.
The children’s social care inspectorate, Ofsted, has the ‘Experience of Looked After Children and Care Leavers’ as a key judgement area in its evaluation of local performance, and expects Councils and children’s services to provide clear evidence that it supports its young people leaving care up to the age of 25, in a way that optimises their outcomes.
The Government’s care leavers’ strategy, Keep on Caring, published in July 2016, encouraged councils to consider the role of a corporate parent, ‘through the lens of what any reasonable parent does to give their child the best start in life’. As a further development of this local authorities were encouraged to consider exempting care leavers from council tax using the powers already at their disposal, to be aspirational for care leavers in achieving financial independence.
Kent has 1,718 young people who they have corporate parenting responsibility for as Care Leavers aged 18 -25 years. The vast majority are living in Kent, with 155 in Medway and 408 placed outside of the county. The original proposal was to work with the 12 Local District Borough Councils to request an exemption for council tax for all Kent Care Leavers living within the county. After extensive work on the logistics involved in this, the request is to implement a simplified proposal, in which Kent County Council in their role as a Corporate Parent would fund council tax payments where young people who are care leavers are eligible to pay. This would be for young people who are Kent Care Leavers aged 18-21 years, wherever they are living. The reasons for this are:
The proposal meets the objectives of ‘Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes: Kent County Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020)’ through:
· The Strategic Statement underpins the proposal for the payment of council tax in our aim to improve the lives of children and young people by giving them the best start in life. It meets our responsibility of being the best Corporate Parent we can be and being aspirational for our Care Leavers as they transition into adult hood.
· Agreement to the funding would improve the outcomes of Care Leavers by ensuring that they are financially supported and give them the best possible opportunities for their futures as adults.
· For those young people currently paying council tax, it would open up the opportunity to use their own income for more social and leisure activities, promoting and improving their mental health and well-being.
To agree that Kent County Council will fund the council tax payments for Kent young people who are Care Leavers from the age of 18 years, up to the age of 21 years. All young people will be expected to claim any council tax benefit/discount entitlement and no backdated payments will be made. For implementation from 1st April 2020. This will be published as part of the Kent Care Leavers Local Offer.
Publication date: 27/01/2020
Date of decision: 27/01/2020
Effective from: 04/02/2020