A significant number of people with ‘mental impairments’, such as learning disabilities, dementia and Parkinsons, are missing out on discounts on their council tax bills, due to a lack of awareness
Read the important article below from homecare.co.uk
An investigation by MoneySavingExpert.com revealed that many people have been missing out on eligible council tax discount for years. According to GOV.UK, in England, Scotland and Wales, if you live on your own and have a severe mental impairment you do not have to pay council tax and you can claim back any that you have paid while you were living alone. If you live with an adult with severe mental impairment you are entitled to a 25 per cent council tax discount.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Many of the most vulnerable within our society, those who are living with a ‘severe mental impairment’, have been eligible for a council tax discount for years, but sadly, across Britain they have rarely been about told it – meaning they’ve missed out on money that could have transformed their quality of life.
“Most councils haven’t helped spread the word, and disgracefully have often hindered people claiming by giving out misinformation. Some staff in our cold-calling exercise even said the discount doesn’t exist, meaning there are huge differences in take-up across the country. That simply isn’t right.”
Wales is leading the way in righting this wrong and the Welsh Government has joined forces with the money consumer website and Welsh local authorities and produced a single, simple and easy-to-use form, which people with severe mental impairments can use to claim what they are entitled to. The form is now widely available in all local authorities and advice centres across Wales.
They will also be able to claim back any council tax discounts, to the point when they were diagnosed.
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “I am pleased the Welsh Government is leading the way with this new approach, helping some of the most vulnerable people access the discounts and support they are entitled to, and I’m very grateful to MoneySavingExpert and Martin Lewis for bringing this issue to our attention and working with us to address it.
“This is a great example of collaborative working and supports the Welsh Government’s commitment to make council tax fairer.”
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said he is “delighted that our research and campaign has been so warmly welcomed in Wales, and congratulate the Welsh Government and Welsh local councils for their swift and comprehensive action once it was alerted to the issue.”
“Wales will be a beacon of light on this, bringing justice and real, significant change that will help some of society’s most needy. We’ve had encouraging noises from Scotland and we’re hopeful it’ll soon follow Wales. Yet there’s a lot of work to be done to bring England out of the dark too. It should be easy to do, the law is identical to Wales, but we need the Secretary of State James Brokenshire, and the Local Government Association to give it the attention it deserves.”
Sally Copley, director of Policy, Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society called it “welcome news to the 45,000 people living with dementia in Wales” but asked “what about the people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland?”
She added: ‘Dementia is a devastating condition, with the average person spending £100,000 to cover their care. As it stands, people with severe dementia are eligible for discounts or even exemptions on their council tax, but we know from talking to people with dementia that they often aren’t aware of these crucial entitlements.
“It’s criminal that people with dementia aren’t getting the financial help they are entitled to. We echo Martin Lewis’ call for this discount to be backdated and for all local authorities to ensure there’s a clear and consistent process going forwards. No person with dementia should be losing out because of their postcode.”
Dementia UK’s director of Clinical Services, Paul Edwards, added: “Through calls we get to our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, we know how often families are left in the dark. They struggle to work their way through a system which doesn’t give them consistent, accurate information around their incredibly complex needs. We therefore welcome this important step so vulnerable families can claim council tax reductions simply and accessibly, and local authorities as well as health and social care professionals are more accountable to them.”