Council Tax And Dementia: Are you Eligible and How To Claim?

COUNCIL TAX AND DEMENTIA

If your loved one is living with dementia, you may be surprised to learn that they may qualify for a reduction or exemption from paying council tax. Many families are not aware of this entitlement and do not make the most of the savings it can provide.

At The Good Care Group, we have been helping families up and down the country understand the funding and financing that may be available to help with the cost of care, as well as other local authority support.

Here we explore the different discounts and exemptions that may apply so you get a better understanding as to your eligibility and how you go about claiming your dementia council tax.

dementia-memory-clinics

WHAT IS COUNCIL TAX?

Council tax is the local tax charged by local authorities to help councils pay for the services it provides the public. The tax is used to pay for services, such as roads, street cleaning and libraries. If you are over 18 years old and own or rent a home, you will usually have to pay council tax. A full council tax bill is based on two adults living in a home and spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for paying the bill. As with a council tax reduction for dementia, there are other situations where discounts are offered. For example, if you live alone, you will be entitled to a 25% discount on the full council tax bill.

How much council tax you pay is determined using the value of the property you live in at a certain point in time. Based on the value, the property is placed into a council tax band. Each band is charged a different amount of tax. Properties with a higher value, are in a band with a higher rate of council tax.

COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNTS, DISREGARDS AND EXEMPTIONS

There are two different scenarios when you will not pay full council tax, or any council tax at all; if you are disregarded or exempt, or you are eligible for a discount.

Exemptions (people who are disregarded from paying council tax)

When a local authority calculates how many people live in a property, they do not necessarily count all the people living there. These people are referred to as ‘disregarded’ which means they are exempt from paying.

People who are likely to be disregarded include:

  • Under 18’s
  • A full-time student in higher or further education. The student must be studying more than 21 hours a week for more than 24 weeks a year
  • A school or college leaver aged under 20 who has left school or college after 30 April. The leaver will be disregarded until 1 November of the same year whether or not they take up employment
  • A young person on a government training scheme or apprenticeship
  • A spouse, civil partner or dependent of a student who is a non-British citizen and who is prevented by immigration from taking paid employment or claiming benefit in the UK
  • A person with severe mental impairment
  • A person who is a long-term hospital patient
  • A care home resident
  • A prisoner or someone in detention
  • A person awaiting deportation
  • A foreign language assistant on the office British Council programme
  • A person being held under mental health legislation
  • A person living in a hostel that provides treatment for the elderly, physical or mental disability, past or present alcohol or drug dependence
  • A person living in a bail or probation hostel
  • A live-in care worker
  • A member of a religious community
  • A member of visiting armed forces and their dependents

There is an exception to the above disregard criteria. If everyone living in a property is disregarded, they will have to pay council tax. However, the full council tax bill will be discounted by 50%

Discounts and reductions

There are three ways to reduce your Council Tax bill that look at your personal situation, and not how much income or savings you have (non-means tested).

They are Status Discount (including severe mental impairment), Disability Reduction and Unoccupied and exempt accommodation. Some people may qualify for several forms of discount at the same time, so it’s possible to combine different ways of reducing your council tax bill.

Status Discount

The most common type of Status Discount is the one-person discount of 25%, available when only one adult lives in the property. Sometimes, other people living there might be ignored too and a 25% or 50% discount might be awarded.

Disability reduction scheme

This scheme in England, Scotland and Wales is not means-tested. You don’t have to receive any benefits to get it either. If you qualify, the scheme reduces your Council Tax bill by one banding, i.e. from Band C to Band B, if your home has been adapted or changed in some way for someone with a substantial and permanent disability. To qualify, your home should have at least one of the following:

  • An additional bathroom or kitchen (which has been added for a disabled person to use)
  • A room (other than a toilet, bathroom or kitchen) which is used mainly by a disabled person for treatment or therapy
  • Enough space in the property for a wheelchair to be used indoors (the property may have been adapted to cater for wheelchair use)

Each council has its own application form for the Disability Reduction Scheme. Councils always assess eligibility through a home visit, so they can see the changes that have been made.

Exempt and unoccupied accommodation

Some properties and some people in certain circumstances are completely exempt from paying council tax. You are exempt from paying if you or your property meet one of the following criteria:

  • Everyone living in the property is under the age of 18.
  • If you are in hospital or a care home.
  • If you are living away from the property elsewhere to care for someone. You’re a student
  • studying elsewhere, and the property is unoccupied.
  • The only person living in the property has died and probate has yet to be granted
  • The property has been repossessed.
  • The person living in the property who is liable to pay council tax has become bankrupt and the property is part of the bankruptcy.

THE COUNCIL TAX DEMENTIA DISCOUNT

The council reduction for dementia comes under the Status Discount. This discount applies to those living with health conditions like dementia that can cause a ‘severe mental impairment’. But many conditions can lead to an impairment of cognitive or social functioning that can also be described as a ‘severe mental impairment’. In addition, however, you must also receive one of the following benefits to claim the discount.

  • The high or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance

In addition, you will need a medical certificate from a GP or specialist that states that you have ‘severe mental impairment’ and that this is permanent to claim this discount.

If you are a family member caring for your loved one for 35 hours a week or more, you will receive the council tax reduction for Alzhiemer’s discount. This is only if the person you are caring for lives at your address, is not your spouse, partner or parent, and they receive one of the following benefits:

  • The high or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Armed forces independence payment, or the highest rate of constant attendance allowance.
  • Status discount for severe mental impairment

HOW TO CLAIM DEMENTIA COUNCIL TAX

The process for making a claim for council tax reduction for dementia differs from area to area. The first step is to contact your local authority to understand their approach to council tax and dementia.

Either you as the family member / carer can make the claim or your loved one can.

A registered medical professional will need to give a diagnosis of dementia and confirm it is causing ‘severe mental impairment’. This must be a written statement from the healthcare professional, usually a GP or a specialist consultant.

Then you will need to get a claim form from your local authority or register for a council tax reduction for dementia on the government website ‘apply for council tax reduction’. You may be asked to provide some supporting evidence as well as the medical professionals diagnosis statement.

CAN I CLAIM BACK DATED DEMENTIA COUNCIL TAX?

There are many families who are not aware that there is a discount available for council tax and dementia. The good news is that you back date your claim if you can meet the criteria that at the time your loved one was living with ‘severe mental impairment’.

If you are making a retrospective claim you will need to write to your local authority to explain the circumstances of the application. If you live with someone who has mental impairment, but has since passed away, you can still make a back dated claim. The same criteria will apply.

USEFUL RESOURCES

Below are useful links to online resources that provide more information about council tax and dementia, and how to you can access discounts and exemptions:

Government website

Money saving expert article

Alzheimer’s society

Dementia UK

Citizen Advice Bureau

To support you and your family we have created a useful Dementia Care Guide which provides you with information and advice on how to provide person-centred dementia care following a diagnosis of dementia.

TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR DEMENTIA CARE NEEDS

Our friendly and experienced team is here to help you and your family make sense of the options available to you. Call us today – we will help you every step of the way.


020 3728 7577

Enquiry Form