Young people who leave the care system under Thurrock Council will be exempt from paying council tax up to the age of 21.

A pilot scheme is currently underway, called the Head Start Housing for Care Leavers, which aims to give care leavers a smooth transition into adulthood.

In a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening, Councillor James Halden, responsible for health and education in Thurrock, submitted the motion.

He said: "This was done to try to house young people closer to us to ensure that they are adjusted to adulthood in the best manner.

"We started to look at how we could best help these young people in the types of services we offer.

"Not just housing services, but debt advice services and educational skills services.

"What I've always said is that we should see as a child as a whole person, not just seeing them as a housing case or a social care case."

The scheme will provide care leavers with personalised support on day-to-day issues they are unfamiliar with, and exempt them from paying council tax until they are 21 - with "exceptional cases" being free from this charge up to 25 years old.

An anonymous user of the scheme said in a statement: "Before the HMO, I was sharing a caravan in Ockendon with my two brothers.

"It was very cramped; I would hit my head on the door frames.

"People often judged me for living where I did, expecting a type of behaviour before getting to know me.

"Of course this affected my view of the world/them and not in a good way.

"Now my work life balance is good. My work is going well – I am in a permanent post, in a job that I enjoy and get on well with my colleagues.

"I get on well with the other tenants, I like sharing the space with the others.

"We help each other out – car rides, lending and borrowing our things, making repairs, sometimes cooking for each other I enjoy spending time with my family now. 

"We have improved the property and made it our own. We have good relationships with the neighbours; they have donated garden chairs and tools.

"At some point, I will invite them round for a BBQ. I no longer feel judged. I can relax and be me, in my home."

The motion was passed unanimously.