On 10th October 2017, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that care leavers will be exempt from paying Council Tax.

She said:

"Every child matters. That includes those who grew up in care. Last year, I set out plans for a fundamental review of the care system. We want it to have love at its heart.

We are also delivering practical help to level the playing field for care leavers - like full grants and guaranteed places for those with the grades to go to university.

We want to make life a little bit easier for those leaving care. So I can announce today a further step. We will change the law so that all young care leavers are exempt from paying Council Tax."

We have received a number of queries from young people unsure how to claim exemption, or whether they are eligible. In response, we contacted both the Scottish government and local councils to clarify.

The Council Tax exemption will be achieved by giving care leavers equivalent status - in Council Tax terms - to a student. The Scottish Government informed us that two pieces of secondary legislation were amended to bring the Council Tax exemption into force. Their associated policy notes set out what the changes mean. Please click on the links at the bottom of this page for further information.

The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2018 means a dwelling occupied by one or more care leavers, or a care leaver sharing with one or more students (or other specified persons), is exempt from Council Tax.

The Council Tax (Discounts) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2018 disregards a care leaver for Council Tax discount purposes. This means that someone otherwise entitled to a Council Tax single person discount won't lose that discount if the dwelling is shared with one or more care leavers. This includes foster and kinship carers, as well as any other adult, such as a partner or flat mate.

Beyond these changes, Council Tax is a local tax, so policy and implementation sits with individual councils. The Scottish Government does not provide guidance as a matter of course.

Locally, we have heard some services are working directly with finance teams to ensure their young people are automatically exempt, and others are setting up systems for young people to claim eligibility.

We have contacted all local authorities in Scotland, to inform them and request information about what steps they are taking to inform their young people. this will help understand good practice where it's happening, and enable sharing of it with colleagues.

Below is a sample of responses:

Glasgow City Council

To all,

You will all be aware that the Scottish Government have amended the law to make care leavers exempt from paying Council Tax from the 1st April 2018 until their 26th birthday.

There is a process on Connect for individuals to register their exemption status (https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=22226) from the 1st April onwards. Glasgow City Council Tax Section have told us that if care leavers don't register and pay CT in the next financial year they will be eligible for a backdated refund. They also stated that care leavers that live in a household of other (non care leaver) adults, they will be eligible for a discount (depending on circumstances) rather than exemption.

Glasgow City Council Council Tax Section have approached us to ak if we could let them know of any care leavers (aged between 18-26) currently required to pay Council Tax.

Inverclyde Council

We have systems in place to ensure as many of our care leavers and families are aware of this.

The attached poster is shown in all partner agencies locally and within our council and HSCP, displayed on SOLUS screens. I have also written to families where care leavers remain in the family home to ensure they are aware of this so they do not lose their single person discount. We have a dedicated admin worker who is responding to calls and our care leavers register is updated weekly to ensure we know who is eligible. The word is spreading and we have already had calls so its a positive message down here in Inverclyde.

For our care leavers who have moved outwith authority, I have sent letters to them to make contact with their local Council Tax office to ensure their care leaver status is known to these offices.

East Lothian Council

We met with Revenues last week and have a form, which I am currently sending out with a letter for care leavers to complete and return to us, so that we can verify that they do meet the criteria. This will then be sent to Revenues. We are writing to all young people who are currently open cases and have been open up to 21.

The group 21-26 is more complicated - we are writing to those that we are aware of, but will also highlight on our social media pages, etc. about these young people having to identify themselves. The East Lothian Council website is being updated to reflect the changes, and allow people to access the form.


Policy Note: Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2018 (external website)

Policy Note: Council Tax (Discounts) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2018 (external website)