Agenda item

Council Tax Exemption for Foster Carers (Decision: 110536)


Councillor Halden introduced the report and stated that he felt proud of this report as it was important for Thurrock based foster carers, as they would not have to pay council tax starting in April 2021. He stated that the average cost of council tax in a Band D property was £1600 per year, but foster carers would be exempt from paying this. Councillor Halden stated that this was the biggest single investment in Thurrock foster carers in many years, and felt it would help improve the number of Thurrock based foster carers, and this would allow foster children to remain in their own communities. He stated that this exemption would be funded through the premium currently being paid for external foster agencies, which cost roughly £2million. He felt this council tax exemption would encourage more local people to become foster carers and therefore reduce the Council’s reliance on expensive external foster care agencies. He stated that the criteria and process to become a foster carer would remain high, and foster carers would still need to commit to the ‘Stay Put’ policy, which ensured foster carers gave pastoral support for foster children up until the age of 21.

Councillor Halden explained that Thurrock would still need to use foster carers outside the borough in some situations, for example if a child required specialist support or had specific medical needs that could only be treated outside Thurrock, but that the exemption would apply to current foster carers in Thurrock and current Thurrock foster carers living outside the borough. He added that officers would also be able to use their discretion regarding the exemption if they felt it was necessary. He thanked the team for their hard work, as well as the Leader and Councillor Hebb for their support on the project.

Councillor Hebb added that he felt this policy was the right thing to do for Thurrock, and hoped it would encourage more people to apply to become foster carers. He stated that although independent foster care agencies were caring and reliable, by increasing the number of internal Thurrock foster carers, more children could stay within their local neighbourhoods and receive continued support. He thanked the social care team and Councillor Halden for their hard work on the project. Councillor Mayes added that his parents had been Thurrock foster carers for forty years, and felt he understood the challenges that foster carers faced. He commented that any additional money or savings received by foster carers went on caring their foster children, and felt that this council tax exemption would really be of benefit.

The Leader summarised and stated that as a former council tax enforcement officer, he understood the benefit this council tax exemption would have on local foster families. He stated that by increasing the number of home-grown foster parents, this would increase savings for the tax base, and the Council were investing to save. He stated that this report was not designed around those savings, and the main focus was ensuring that foster children stay within Thurrock to ensure they could continue accessing the necessary support and stay within their schools, which would increase their life chances. He stated that as this exemption formed part of the council tax budget, it would be reviewed by Full Council every year.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Recommended the introduction of a Council Tax exemption scheme starting in April 2021 (2021/22 financial year) as outlined in section 3 in the report. 

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in

Supporting documents: