MSE News: Revealed: Councils overcharging 10,000s who are severely mentally impaired

edited 29 September 2017 at 11:57AM in Benefits & Tax Credits
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edited 29 September 2017 at 11:57AM in Benefits & Tax Credits
A major investigation by MoneySavingExpert.com reveals 10,000s of the most vulnerable people in England, Scotland and Wales are being overcharged up to £400 a year due to a council tax postcode lottery...
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'Revealed: Councils overcharging 10,000s who are 'severely mentally impaired''
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  • They aren't being overcharged. They are being charged correctly because the council has not been told about certain conditions to enable a discount to be applied.
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    cifpower wrote: »
    They aren't being overcharged. They are being charged correctly because the council has not been told about certain conditions to enable a discount to be applied.

    Spot on - the council are required to publicise the reductions, the booklet issued each year should include the details (as should every council website). When it's not claimed it's more often a case that, for whatever reason, people haven't read the information and realised it's available than the council not doing their job correctly.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • edited 29 September 2017 at 10:08AM
    A_Flock_Of_SheepA_Flock_Of_Sheep Forumite
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    edited 29 September 2017 at 10:08AM
    And before anyone jumps on this bandwaggon, depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia and anxiety are not severe mental impairments.

    Think severe Autism, severe learning difficulties for this concession. Being nervous on a bus or an inability to use public transport or go to the supermarket isn't really in the scope of this.


    This will be another thing milked to death by MSE readers, sanctioned by over worked GPS, leading to a clampdown making it hard for genuine cases. I suspect this wil end up needing independent medicals like the Blue Badge does due to people taking the urine.
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    And before anyone jumps on this bandwaggon, depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia and anxiety are not severe mental impairments.

    Think severe Autism, severe learning difficulties for this concession. Being nervous on a bus or an inability to use public transport or go to the supermarket isn't really in the scope of this.

    Until the law is changed then the decision is made by the Dr - if the Dr doesn't believe a person meets the criteria then they are negligent in signing the form.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • polymaffpolymaff Forumite
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    It is worth looking at the original reasoning for the legislation.

    It was felt that those who were so mentally impaired that they could not make any contribution to discussions on how Council Tax should be spent should not have to pay it.

    That should make it reasonably clear who medically qualifies. It also explains the 100% and 25% rates.
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    The original thought behind the reduction isn't in doubt however the actual wording of the legislation doesn't fully support that outcome, and that's the issue. Until there's either a court ruling on it or a change in legislation the original idea will continue to be divergent from the legislation.

    The specific rates have nothing to do with the reasoning behind the reduction, they just follow the standard discount and exemption rates. (In some cases a 50% reduction may also be given).
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • socks_uksocks_uk Forumite
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    My husband lives with Schizophrenia and struggles to stay 'with us'. He receives PIP payments but of course Schizophrenia isn't one of the conditions listed.
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  • cifpower wrote: »
    They aren't being overcharged. They are being charged correctly because the council has not been told about certain conditions to enable a discount to be applied.



    They absolutely are.


    It isn't an entitlement that needs to be claimed for.


    As Martin Lewis himself explained on tv earlier today, the FOI requests and cold calling revealed, "bureaucratic ineptitude" by councils.


    When eg an elderly person suffers a stroke or from dementia or receives an NHS Certificate for care (but chooses to stay in their own home), that is meant to automatically trigger the 100% Council Tax Rebate due to their severe impairment.


    Just four councils did this for all residents in their area, whilst most didn't even list the rebate for SMI on their websites!
    Please be polite to OPs and remember this is a site for Claimants and Appellants to seek redress against their bank, ex-boss or retailer. If they wanted morality or the view of the IoD or Bank they'd ask them.
  • SandraScarlettSandraScarlett Forumite
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    cifpower wrote: »
    They aren't being overcharged. They are being charged correctly because the council has not been told about certain conditions to enable a discount to be applied.


    But if people don't know such a discount exists, how do they find out about it? My late husband had Alzheimer's, and I only found out abut the discount on here.


    Once I knew, it was simply a matter of telephoning for a form, one side of which was just personal details, and the other, which was signed by our GP, verified the starting date of the condition, and we received thousands of pounds, as it was backdated.


    The information may well have been in a leaflet sent out with the Council Tax, or it may not, but when you are a Carer 24/7 for someone with this terribly cruel disease, it's all you can do to pay your bills as they arrive. There just isn't time for reading.


    This discount needs to be publicised more. At one point my DH had either 5 Social Workers in 7 months, or 7 in 5 months, and not one advised me of the discount.
  • Mersey wrote: »
    They absolutely are.


    It isn't an entitlement that needs to be claimed for.


    As Martin Lewis himself explained on tv earlier today, the FOI requests and cold calling revealed, "bureaucratic ineptitude" by councils.


    When eg an elderly person suffers a stroke or from dementia or receives an NHS Certificate for care (but chooses to stay in their own home), that is meant to automatically trigger the 100% Council Tax Rebate due to their severe impairment.


    Just four councils did this for all residents in their area, whilst most didn't even list the rebate for SMI on their websites!

    ...and how would a Council Tax Department know someone had dementia or suffered a stroke or an NHS Certificate for care had been issued?

    And 100% discount for Severe Mental Impairment isn't automatically awarded. They might only get 25% or 0% even if they are SMI.
    These are my own views and you should seek advice from your local Benefits Department or CAB.
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