Dorset Council has been praised for adopting a policy which will exempt care leavers from having to pay council tax until they reach 25 – but is asking the council to go further.

It wants the authority to extend the policy to those who were in its care, but no longer live in the county.

The policy agreed this week only gives the exemption to those who are still living in Dorset – if it was extended another 95 might also benefit, which would almost double the cost to the council.

Said Dr Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society: “We’re delighted that Dorset Council has agreed to introduce this exemption. It’s a really important step which will make life easier for many young people making the move into independent living.

“However, some care leavers may choose to move outside the council’s area to work or study or be placed outside it by the authority. Dorset will remain their corporate parent so we would still like the council to go further and ensure these young people are also exempted so that no young person in this position misses out on this vital support.”

Dorset Council currently has a parenting responsibility for 225 care leavers aged between 18 and 25. Of the 130 who live in Dorset almost half are in Weymouth and Portland.

In total 104 care leavers in the county are currently be liable for council tax which, if all claim the exemption, could cost £46,500 a year.

The Children’s Society has campaigned nationally for councils to exempt care leavers from council tax and, with Dorset, now has 103 English unitary or larger councils signed up. Authorities in Wales and Scotland universally exempt care leavers from having to pay council tax.

“Care leavers have often experienced a really difficult upbringing and they may have experienced abuse, neglect or family breakdown which can have a big impact upon their life chances,” said Dr Royston.

“Without the family support most young people get as they become adults, care leavers often struggle to juggle their household bills and make ends meet. Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other basic necessities.”