YOUNG people leaving the care system in Wiltshire will now have their council tax paid for until they are 25, to offer financial support when they begin their adult lives.There are currently 215 care leavers in Wiltshire, and of these 165 are aged between 19 and 21.

They will now receive support through a council tax exemption as they live on their own for the first time and enter further education or work.

Government targets for councils mean that local authorities must now provide support to young people leaving the care system into adulthood, and Wiltshire Council has confirmed it would continue to provide support until they are aged 25.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting held in County Hall, Trowbridge on Tuesday, cabinet member for children's services Laura Mayes said: "It is always nice to have something that is good to present to cabinet. I am thrilled to bring this, it is something I have been working on for a number of years and I am delighted to ask you to approve this to improve the lives of Wiltshire care leavers within and outside of the county. I have been working with children in care for over ten years and they are the most inspirational children, but often they are also very vulnerable.

"There comes a time when they they move on, leave home and move into independent accommodation but even though they have left home, that is sometimes the most vulnerable time for them.

"We spoke to a care leaver and she spoke about the difficulty of managing a budget, being on their own, catering and paying bills by herself. She said that the council tax bill was just one too many."

77 local authorities across the country already pay the council tax for care leavers, and Wiltshire will now join this group, at a cost of £60k.

40 young people will be eligible to have their council tax paid for and the benefit will be offered to those who qualify as living independently and needing to pay council tax.

Coun Pauline Church, cabinet member for Economic Development said: "I whole heartedly support this. Care leavers often leave home earlier than other young people and need more help. I have the same aspirations as a corporate parents for care leavers as I do my own children."

Care leavers from Wiltshire will qualify and receive the exemption whether they stay within the council area or move away.