Hammersmith & Fulham to Waive Council Tax for Foster Carers

Intention is to provide support for 'quiet heroes'

H&F's fostering team talk to potential new foster carers at a Sands End Arts & Community Centre event

January 22, 2024

Foster carers will no longer have to pay council tax in Hammersmith & Fulham, as the local authority looks to increase support for the community’s ‘quiet heroes’. The borough already provides exemptions from council tax for several groups including war widows and those on low incomes.

The local authority has either frozen or cut council tax five times in the last nine years, with 47% of residents receiving some sort of discount. During a cabinet meeting last week, council leader Stephen Cowan described the proposal to exempt foster carers as ‘an extremely important measure’.

In a report presented by Cllr Rowan Ree, Cabinet Member for Finance and Reform, officers wrote the number of homes the local authority expects to collect council tax from in 2024/25 had risen by 2,177 when compared to 2023/24, up from 83,936 to 86,113. This is largely due to new properties being added over the year, as well as an expected drop in the number of people receiving certain discounts.

Cllr Ree told cabinet members one of the key changes to the council’s tax base proposed for 2024/25 is the addition of foster carers to those who are exempt, ‘in light of the vital and important work that they do’. Cllr Cowan said residents are supported by ‘quiet heroes’ who ‘give a little bit of themselves to others’, which includes foster carers.

“So our message to all foster carers is one of gratitude, and the fact that we can underline that by exempting them from council tax…is something that I think is an extremely important measure.”

As well as supporting foster carers, the report proposes continuing to charge the full council tax premium available – double the normal rate – on empty and ‘substantially unfurnished’ homes. It notes there are 2,711 second homes in the borough and 704 empty properties.

Cllr Cowan said people owning but not living in such homes ‘damages the community’, adding: “There’s nobody in any part of our society that is not affected by the housing crisis.” Having been agreed by cabinet, the report is now due to go before full council on Wednesday (January 24), with officers recommending it is approved for 2024/25.

Adrian Zorzut - Local Democracy Reporter