Thursday, December 1, 2022

Thurrock Independents express concern over care leavers council tax plans

THE Thurrock Independents (formerly UKIP and UKIP MEP Tim Aker) has taken the decision too “call in” Thurrock Council’s ‘Pilot Development of Head Start Housing for Care Leavers and Vulnerable Young People’ policy.

Whilst Thurrock Independents fully support the intentions and spirit of the policy, they say they are concerned about the lack of proper scrutiny and serious flaws within it.

A spokeserson said: “These flaws make it unlikely that the spirit of the policy will be matched by its implementation.

Our main concerns are:

– The amendment agreed on Cllr Kent’s motion to full council on the 29th November 2017 stated that this paper would be sent to Committee ‘for scrutiny to make recommendations to cabinet…’. However, the paper that came to Committee on the 12th December 2017 presented virtually no scope for recommendations on the council tax exemption element. None of the alternative options the department had considered were included regarding the council tax exemption. The report did not include the rationale for how the decision had been reached.

– The report did not set out acceptable criteria for how discretionary decisions on the exemption for 21-25-year olds would be reached. This serious flaw in the policy was evident at the Committee on the 13th February 2018 with officers questioned on the criteria unable to provide any details. The 12th December 2017 Committee recommended that another report be brought back to the Committee, however the administration chose to ignore this request.

Thurrock Independents believe that a new paper must to be submitted to committee regarding the council tax exemption element of the Pilot Development of Head Start Housing for Care Leaves and Vulnerable Young People. This paper must include:

– The complete range of all options considered by the department and the rationale for each of these options.

– Scope for the committee to be able to recommend one of these options.

– A developed and robust set of criteria for any discretionary decision making within any of the presented options.

Thurrock Independents Leader, Cllr Graham Snell said: “The amendment was agreed to on the basis of good faith. It is therefore disappointing to have seen this good faith taken advantage of in such a way. We now have a half-baked policy that has been rushed through to generate a political headline rather than meet genuine need. Thurrock Independents are committed to putting people first and politics second and therefore cannot allow such a poor document become policy without the proper scrutiny it requires to make it fit-for-purpose.”


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