Will the Minister consider supporting council tax reduction as a way of encouraging more foster carers and, if so, state how much finance the Welsh Government will provide to support such schemes across Wales?
As I outlined in my written statement on 18 March, we continue to make progress with our programme of work to make council tax fairer. As well as exempting care leavers from council tax and removing the sanction of imprisonment from 1 April this year, we have continued our campaign to raise awareness of the exemptions, discounts and reductions available. These schemes are open to anyone who meets the qualifying criteria, including foster carers.
In my statement on 10 July, I updated Members on the support provided through our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. The Welsh Government has continued to maintain entitlements to support and to provide £244 million a year via the local government settlement for the scheme.
Our support is targeted towards people who need it most. Council tax exists to help fund local services and the support schemes are there to help households with their bills. Our published programme sets out the further work we plan to do to improve the council tax system. I welcome all contributions to this work. In considering any proposals to extend council tax support, all the options would need to be thoroughly tested and evaluated including whether other, more direct, forms of support would prove more effective in achieving the intended outcome.