Vulnerable elderly could be missing out on council tax reductions

News Article

Thousands of people who are living with dementia or caring for someone with the condition could be missing out on a reduction in council tax.

In England, Scotland and Wales anyone who has been medically certified as having a permanent, severe mental impairment such as dementia and who is entitled to a disability benefit such as attendance allowance, personal independence payment or disability living allowance, could be entitled to a reduction in their Council Tax bill.

Those diagnosed as ‘severely mentally impaired’ who live alone are exempt from paying the tax and two-person households, where one is a sufferer, qualify for a 25 per cent discount.

However, many people are either unaware of the potential reduction or are not applying for the discount as a result of inadequate or confusing information from their local authority.

Despite Government ministers calling on local authorities to ensure that everyone who is entitled to a reduction receives the money they are entitled to, councils have been slow to respond.

Money advice website, MoneySavingExpert.com, recently carried out an investigation to find out how many people were claiming the discount across the country.

A Freedom of Information request revealed huge variations in the numbers of people making a claim.

They found that in Spelthorne Borough Council in Surrey, only 10 residents had claimed, but in Ashford in Kent, an area with a similar population, 423 had successfully claimed a Council Tax reduction.

Based on data from 265 councils out of 380 across England, Scotland and Wales, it has been estimated that up to 100,000 more people could start claiming, and that the average claim could be worth £400 a year.

Georgina Leighton, a Solicitor with Palmers who specialises in Older Client matters, said: “Some councils are not making it easy for people to claim the reductions they are entitled to and are providing incorrect information to potential claimants by telling them that they already need to be in receipt of various benefits. However, the law only states that you need to be ‘eligible’.

“In some cases, people may be able to claim retrospectively, although this is something of a postcode lottery as each local authority has different rules.

“If you or your partner have dementia, it is important to find out what you are entitled to and, if necessary, seek legal advice to ensure that you receive any reductions that you’re entitled to.”

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