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Award-winning campaign wins council tax exemption for Lancashire’s care leavers

Care leavers across Lancashire are now exempt from paying council tax, thanks to an award-winning campaign by Lancashire County Council’s Children in Care Council, known as LINX.

This group won the Best Campaign award at the first national British Youth Council Youth Voice Star Awards held last week.

The award-winning LINX group, run by Barnardo’s on behalf of Lancashire County Council, lobbied councils across Lancashire for young care leavers up to the age of 25 to receive a grant to pay their council tax.

Fifteen children and young people worked on the campaign and consulted with care leavers across the county. The young people also wrote to and met with MPs and officers from many organisations including Lancashire’s Corporate Parenting Board, The Children’s Society and Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The campaign was successful, and it was announced in May that all young people aged from 18 up to 25, leaving the care of the county council would receive this support. This will apply wherever they choose to live in the country.

Lancashire County Council and the district councils are working closely together to implement this grant and payments are being made successfully. This initiative is supporting care leavers to remain in employment and to manage living independently more effectively.

This will make a difference to the lives of hundreds of young people across the county who sometimes struggle when they live independently, often without having any family support available to help them.

County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, and Schools, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved with this success. It is a real achievement and fantastic recognition of very important work.

“The young people recognised an issue affecting care leavers, and decided to do something about it. Their actions have resulted in care leavers up to the age of 25 being exempt from paying council tax.

“Making the move to live independently is usually an exciting time for young people, but it can also have its challenges. These young people usually have no real support network around them, so this help that we are pleased to be able to give should assist them to remain independent, and in employment.

“We value the participation of children and young people so much that it is now central to our approach. This project clearly demonstrates an innovative approach which will benefit young people in Lancashire.”

Barnardo’s Children’s Services Manager, Debbie Nolan Plunkett said: “It is an absolute privilege to be commissioned to run this service, enabling young people in care and care leavers in Lancashire to have a voice. The young people who engage with this service have such high levels of passion and commitment and we could not be prouder of all they have achieved, making a difference to the lives of hundreds of care leavers across Lancashire who struggle financially in their first homes.

“We have learnt so much from these brilliant young people in the last five years and what makes this award win even more special is that it was voted for by the public, showing that so many others acknowledge the impact this group is having in its mission to make life better for others.”

The British Youth Council is a charity that aims to empower young people up to the age of 25 to get involved in their communities on a local, regional, national and international level.

The winners were announced at Lift in London, a venue for young people, on Thursday 9 November.

More information about the awards is available at www.byc.org.uk

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