Local offer for care leavers

Part of Children and Social Work Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 13 Rhagfyr 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson Minister of State (Education) 2:30, 13 Rhagfyr 2016

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. Any roll-out as wide and as significant as universal credit is going to have various knock-on effects, depending on what other initiatives fall off the back of those changes. I will take that away and talk to my colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions to see whether that has been factored in as part of the roll-out through to 2018.

I want to reiterate that care leavers cannot currently claim working tax credit. Anyone over 18 on universal credit will be able to claim in-work benefits. We want to ensure that care leavers are aware of that and that they get the necessary support that falls off the back of that change.

I turn to the issue of paying council tax. We believe, as a long-standing position, that local council tax support is and should be a matter for local authorities, hence the Government giving councils wide powers to design council tax support schemes that protect the most vulnerable. We know that authorities such as Birmingham and Wolverhampton have already taken the decision to exempt care leavers from council tax and I applaud them for doing so.

I want to highlight to councils the support already provided by other authorities around the country to exempt or discount council tax payments for care leavers, because that is a demonstration of what can be done with a bit of creative thinking and understanding of the economic benefits as well as the social and emotional benefits for that young person. I have, therefore, agreed with the Department for Communities and Local Government to write to each local authority, highlighting the local offer for care leavers that will be introduced through this clause, and the flexibility to use the council tax system to provide financial support to care leavers.

I hope that I have covered all the points raised by hon. Members and that the hon. Member for South Shields is reassured by what I have said about the extensive support already available to care leavers and the work that is under way to provide more. On that basis, I urge her to withdraw her amendment.