A motion to exempt young people up to the age of 25 who have previously been in social care was voted against in a Thurrock Council meeting - but a similar idea is still on the table.

Labour councillor, and former council leader, John Kent, tabled a motion asking the council, on Wednesday evening, to agree to exempt care leavers who were looked after by the council from paying Council Tax up until the age of 25 as of 2018/19.

But an amendment to this motion was submitted by Conservative councillor, James Halden, in which he proposed to bring forward plans for targeted Council Tax relief.

Councillor Halden told the chamber that he already has a plan similar to this one, which will help put care leavers onto the property ladder, provide them with personal debt advice and also exempt all 18-year-olds leaving the care system from paying Council Tax.

Commending the "spirit of the motion", Councillor Halden said: "The reason I'm proposing this amendment is because a straight exemption across the board may not necessarily be the best way to help young care leavers.

"I am asking members to look at the paper we are taking to Scrutiny in December and look at the whole cocktail. So, what type of education support, what type of housing support and what type of Council Tax exemption. We need to look at what is right in terms of offering young people what they need.

"The point of a care system is to protect people, not to nurture people. So a straight exemption is going to do very little."

Supporting Councillor Halden's amendment was Conservative councillor, Sue Little, who said: "I do think this needs to go to Scrutiny to be properly looked at, but I don't want our young people to become part of a 'dependency culture'."

Also supporting Councillor Halden's motion was Conservative councillor Deb Huelin, who made reference to her own life.

She said: "When I was 18, I was homeless and I was an only child and I didn't have that kind of support in place. 

"But I got myself through it, I got a job and from age 18 to 25 my life changed dramatically.

"By 25, I was definitely in a position where I could pay my own Council Tax.

"So I think targeted tax relief is a good idea because you just can't pay for everybody."

But John Kent was unconvinced by Councillor Halden's argument and decided to not to vote with the amendment.

He said: "I believe it should be a total exemption for all care leavers in Thurrock up to the age of 25.

"Councillor Halden says that it may not be the best way to support young care leavers - it may be, it may not be. I think it is because I very carefully read the reports from the Children's Society who say it is.

"If the Children's Society say it is the way to go, then I will take my advice from them rather than Councillor Halden.

"You have heard yourselves why we should not be supporting this amendment. We have Councillor Little saying she thinks this engenders some sort of 'dependency culture' - which doesn't sound very supportive to me.

"We have had Councillor Huelin that says this should be targeted which goes against all the advice and recommendations made by the Children's Society.

"So we need to reject the amendment tonight and ensure that all young care leavers get the help they need up to 25."

Following the debate, all Conservative and UKIP councillors voted for the amendment and all Labour councillors voted for the original motion, meaning that the amendment was passed.

This means that the new motion will be assessed at the Children's Service Scrutiny meeting on December 12 and then taken to the Cabinet meeting the following day.

The Children's Society is campaigning for all councils to exempt their care leavers up to 25 years old from paying Council Tax following the publication of two reports - "The cost of being care free" and "Wolf at the door".