Agenda item

Corporate Parenting

Please note: Included within this report (Appendix 2 – pages 65-68), and printed on grey paper, is exempt information, which is not for disclosure to the press and public by virtue of Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended). 

 

If this is to be debated, the Cabinet will be asked to consider it in camera, having first resolved to exclude any members of the press or public present.

Decision:

Resolved that

 

(a)      care leavers in independent accommodation be exempt from Council Tax from age 18-25 subject to Surrey County Council meeting costs in proportion with the amount of Council Tax they receive; and

 

(b)      looked after children, care leavers between the age of 18 and 25, and young carers, be provided with free swimming, free virtual spin, a 50% discount on racquet sports (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), a 50% discount on soft play; casual gym access with a £2 gym entry fee (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); and teen gym access of £2 to attend session / attend with an appropriate adult.

Minutes:

(Link to Council Priorities: Community Wellbeing, Leisure and Culture)

 

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced seven principles of corporate parenting which local authorities, including Borough Councils, were required to have regard to for looked after children or care leavers.  As a two-tier local authority area, the County Council retained the legal responsibility for looked after children and care leavers.  However, the legislation from 2017 stated that all local authorities, including District and Borough Councils, had a responsibility to be ‘good corporate parents’.

 

In this regard, the Portfolio Holder for Resources introduced the report that detailed the Council’s Corporate Parenting responsibilities together with a series of proposed concessions.

 

The Cabinet noted that the Surrey Corporate Parenting Board had recently been refreshed and as a result of a reorganisation of the Children’s Directorate at the County Council, it had been considered the right time to review how best the County, Districts and Boroughs could work together.  Accordingly, the County Council had asked the Boroughs and Districts to look at providing various concessions.  The Cabinet further noted that the County Council was itself considering concessions in respect of the statutory local offer for care leavers; general advice around employment and benefits; and transport concessions.

 

In view of the request by the County Council, the Portfolio Holder took the opportunity to update colleagues on the proposed offer from Elmbridge.

 

In respect of Council Tax, under Section 13A(1)(C) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, local authorities had the discretionary power to reduce the liability for Council Tax for a chargeable dwelling for a specified period in any case as the local authority for the area in which the dwelling was situated as it saw fit.  Therefore, it was proposed that the Council provide care leavers living in independent accommodation, Council Tax exemption between the ages of 18 and 25 using the powers under Section 13A.  The Cabinet noted that based on the numbers provided, the loss of Council Tax income would be between £10,000 and £15,000 and in this regard, the County Council had committed to cover 75% of the loss, resulting in the need for this Council to meet between £2,500 and £3,750.

 

With regard to leisure concessions, whilst the Council already provided several concessions through the More Card discount scheme, as a result of discussions with Places Leisure, it was proposed to offer the following package of leisure concessions to looked after children; care leavers between the ages of 18 and 25; and young carers:

 

·         free swimming;

·         free virtual spin;

·         a 50% discount on racquet sports, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and

·         a 50% discount on soft play.

 

The above offer would only apply to those that were not currently using the facilities and that there would not be a significant financial impact commercially.  Whilst it was acknowledged that there would be a loss of potential income, this was difficult to determine until the likely uptake was clear.  The Portfolio Holder reported that it was also the intention to include this concessionary offer within the new Leisure Contract with effect from 2021.

 

The Portfolio Holder then invited the Strategic Director to update the Cabinet following further discussions with Places Leisure in respect of the leisure concessions.  The Strategic Director was pleased to report that following further discussions with Places Leisure, the Council would also be offering reduced casual gym access during off-peak periods, as part of the leisure concessions package, which would result in a fee of £2 rather than £10.  The exact concession would be:

 

·         casual gym access - £2 gym entry, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (reduced from £10); and

·         teen gym access - £2 to attend session / attend with appropriate adult.

 

The Leader then invited Councillor Mrs. V. Macleod, a Weybridge Riverside Ward Councillor, to address the meeting.  Whilst supporting the proposals put forward, Councillor Mrs. Macleod asked whether the designation of young carers, which currently covered those up to the age of 18, could be extended to include those carers between the ages of 18 and 25.  The Portfolio Holder for Resources welcomed this suggestion and agreed that this could be considered at a future date.

 

Resolved that

 

(a)      care leavers in independent accommodation be exempt from Council Tax from age 18-25 subject to Surrey County Council meeting costs in proportion with the amount of Council Tax they receive; and

 

(b)      looked after children, care leavers between the age of 18 and 25, and young carers, be provided with free swimming, free virtual spin, a 50% discount on racquet sports (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), a 50% discount on soft play; casual gym access with a £2 gym entry fee (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); and teen gym access of £2 to attend session / attend with an appropriate adult.

Supporting documents: