Council tax reduction scheme
What is It?
This scheme is not well known and many disabled people, including those with RSI fail to take advantage of it. If you qualify your Council Tax band is reduced by one. So if your home is assessed as a Band D dwelling, you pay Council Tax as if it was in Band C. This can be worth up to £300 depending on where you live in the country. If your home is already in Band A, you used to be unable to get a reduction, but now if you qualify your Council Tax will be reduced by one sixth.
The disability reduction scheme is not means-tested and if you receive the reduction there are no tax implications and any other benefits you receive are not reduced.
What are the Rules to Qualify?
To qualify you or any other resident in your dwelling must be 'substantially and permanently disabled'. This can be an adult or child of any age and they do not have to be related to you, just resident in the dwelling. The definition of 'substantially and permanently disabled' is not as tough as it might look and some RSI sufferers have been successful in claiming this.
To get a Disability Reduction you also need to satisfy one of three conditions:
- You have a second bathroom or kitchen needed by the disabled person or:
- You have a room (other than a bathroom, kitchen or toilet) needed by and predominantly used by the disabled person or:
- You have enough space for the disabled person to use a wheelchair indoors.
You can be quite creative in considering how these rules fit your situation. Firstly you don't have to have had an extra room built - it can be an existing room in the house that's always been there. So if you have two bathrooms or one bathroom and one en-suite in the house, and one is used predominantly by the RSI sufferer you could qualify under the first condition.
Successful claims include:
- A spa bath in one of two bathrooms to relieve the pain of RSI
- Adapted taps in one of 2 bathrooms for the RSI sufferer to use
- Adapted toilet flush mechanism
The second condition is easier to qualify for. Successful claims have included:
- A separate bedroom for the RSI sufferer. (This involved a married couple who moved into separate bedrooms as the RSI sufferer kept on disturbing the other by waking up in the night because of the pain and having to get up and walk around)
- A room used for exercises (stretching, lying down on the floor etc)
- A room used for a PC and voice recognition software
Some claims involve a room used for all these things, for the RSI sufferer.
RSI sufferers generally cannot meet the third condition.
How do you Claim?
Write to your local Council's Council Tax section. The person liable to pay the Council Tax has to claim (not the disabled person if different). The Council normally sends out a standard claim form. You may have to claim for each year although many Councils carry claims forward from one year to the next as long as you remain resident in the same house.
If they send you Council Tax Benefit forms, they are the wrong forms and you'll need to contact them again. This often happens because staff rarely receive claims for the Disability Reduction Scheme.