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Council tax discounts for ‘severe mental impairment’

edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Benefits & Tax Credits
152 replies 24.3K views
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  • CISCIS Forumite
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    daviddee wrote: »
    Hi,

    Thanks for your reply.

    My local authoroty is Stockton on Tees.

    Im just not sure how to word the letter replying to them to rejecting this six year ruling.

    If I write saying I want to appeal,aga8nst their decision on only backdating six years and include the professors words on this, is there anything else I should be saying in the letter, such as that I’m prepared to take it to a valuation tribunal?

    Thanks
    Dave.


    If you want to do it correctly there is a process of notification which is required prior to using a valuation tribunal (it removes the, slight but real, risk of a tribunal rejecting an application).


    You can certainly make them aware of Prof Zellick's statement (he dealt with the leading cases on backdating) but, to succeed at the backdating it would need more than just that. I'd say that the chance of the council changing their mind prior are slim (although you may be lucky a well constructed argument) so a tribunal is very likely in my experience of backdating disputes.

    Once it heads the way of a tribunal then you're going to need to delve in legislation and previous decisions (for some issues this is not so much of a problem but it is for backdating). Most likely the local authority will quote the Arca decision without consideration of the later cases which clarified (and to some extent, corrected) the Arca decision on backdating.
    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 24 August 2018 at 3:20PM
    Former_MSE_Kate_BFormer_MSE_Kate_B MSE Staff
    3 posts
    edited 24 August 2018 at 3:20PM
    Hi,

    We’re looking to speak to people in Wales who have applied for the “Severely Mentally Impaired” (SMI) discount on council tax.

    By law, someone who has been medically certified as having a permanent condition that affects their intelligence and social functioning (eg, Alzheimer's or severe learning difficulties, but many other conditions may apply) is 'disregarded for council tax purposes' in England, Scotland and Wales. It means you can claim:

    A 25% discount – if someone in your household is considered to have a severe mental impairment and there are no other adults, or only adults who have also been disregarded for council tax purposes.
    A 100% discount – if you have a severe mental impairment and live alone.


    For further information on who is eligible, please read our news story.

    If you’ve applied for this discount and are willing to share your story, please email us on [email protected].

    Thanks,
    MSE Kate

    We want to hear your stories but for security please don't put any personal details or your phone number here – we’ll respond to your email and if necessary, ask if we can call you. We'd be looking to talk to you about the circumstances of you or someone you know. This information will not be recorded without your permission. Your details will only be used for this project and will not be held any longer than necessary.
  • Ok thanks for that.

    It’s at this point I’m beginning to wonder if I’m knowledgable enough to take on the council. I don’t even know what a process of notification is. So literally thinking the council have got the upper hand here!

    Dave.
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    daviddee wrote: »
    Ok thanks for that.

    It’s at this point I’m beginning to wonder if I’m knowledgable enough to take on the council. I don’t even know what a process of notification is. So literally thinking the council have got the upper hand here!

    Dave.


    It can be a difficult process if the council aren't willing to give ground. I spend almost every day battling local authorities over similar issues and sometimes it's like batting your head off a brick wall trying to argue points of legislation and case law on backdating with them and that's my day job (so I know what it's like with the power imbalance, which massively favours those who know the system - like the councils).
    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.
  • Hi daviddee,

    Sorry to hear about the distress you are experiencing. CIS is a good person to offer guidance and I for the main part second what he says.

    I recently helped a friend out with a similar scenario and am presently in the midst of helping them undertake the tortuous and non transparent process of making a complaint against the Council - a topic which is to be the subject of a separate post.

    Anyhow, FYI the customary legal statute of limitations to make any form of a claim to a court in England and Wales is a variable number of years dependant on the circumstances of a case. For example, the limitation period for a disability discrimination claim to a civil court is one year post the alleged act (way too short in my opinion) whilst there is (as you would expect) normally no limitation period for the likes of a heinous crime such as rape etc.

    The judgement ruling which CIS provided an extract from is cited below and referred to a serial offender when it comes to allegedly ripping off council tax payers, namely Bradford Metropolitan District Council:

    http://info.valuation-tribunals.gov.uk/Decision_Documents/documents/CT_England/4705M141113254C.pdf

    I have briefly scanned the above ruling and the 'case' in question did not address Council tax discounts and repayments for ‘severe mental impairment’ per se; it dealt with another Council Tax matter all together. Therefore, the facts and circumstances of your case may be somewhat different and thus you cannot simply assume that you can rely upon the ruling.

    In your case the statute that the Council would seek to rely upon would be 6 years (allied to a 'breach of contract'). The quote made in the case that is however particularly helpful for your argument is as follows and is an argument I relied upon for my friend (who was awarded a 12 year full back payment of Council Tax). It is found in
    para18 of the ruling:

    "The only question in these appeals, therefore, is whether the appellants have brought these proceedings within six years of the date on which the cause of action accrued."

    In your case it may well be argued that the above wording will help affirm your claim and in all likelihood allow any appeal (post completing a 'notification' to your Council) to the Valuation Tribunal to be successful. CIS is correct in what he says re the Council relying on the 'Arca' case, but that ruling has now in effect been corrected.

    Reading the above the OP (of this sub-thread) may now be even mixed up. Confusion is however what Councils such as Bradford like because it means that few constituents can be bothered to appeal and go through what on occasions can appear to be a long winded, complex and tiresome Tribunal process. Nonetheless, you have gone this far, so I would stick to your guns. I for my part (and merely based on what you allege) am very confident that you will win any appeal, but there are of course no guarantees in law.

    I am happy to help out in any way we can and even review draft letters for you. I cannot speak for CIS, but he/she may also be presumably able to continue to offer guidance and CIS appears to be far more experienced than I am in Public Law.

    However, before doing anything may I politely suggest that you delete any reference in your earlier posts to the name of your Council; you daviddee can go back to your post and edit it out, or put in another arbitrary Council name. I say this because it may with respect be somewhat fool hardy to litigate (or even prepare to litigate) via a public forum. I have in the past referred to apparent parties to a claim (and as a result had abuse thrown at me by some members), but unbeknown to said abusive members I purposefully changed the parties names as I was merely seeking feedback on some rather unusual matters of law.

    I cannot offer any assurance that my opinion has any merit, but I sincerely hope that I have been of some assistance.
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  • edited 27 August 2018 at 11:26AM
    CISCIS Forumite
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    edited 27 August 2018 at 11:26AM
    I have briefly scanned the above ruling and the 'case' in question did not address Council tax discounts and repayments for ‘severe mental impairment’ per se; it dealt with another Council Tax matter all together. Therefore, the facts and circumstances of your case may be somewhat different and thus you cannot simply assume that you can rely upon the ruling.
    You're right in that you can never assume anything 100% when it comes to a Tribunal as you're effectively handing the decision making process to a group of third parties.

    I have used Holdsworth as part of tribunal cases previously regarding backdating of other discounts (there are certain key statements from it which I use). As the Holdsworth decision was made by the Tribunal President then his points of clarification on legislation are seen as guiding principles so are always good to point out to the tribunal. Holdsworth by itself isn't about SMI backdating but what it sets is a route, when combined with other cases (also President's decisions) to argue the point regarding backdating.

    I have a couple of SMI backdating cases going through to tribunal at the moment on cases I've worked with so, it's in the hands of the tribunal and fingers crossed that the decisions will sway the them (all you can do is try). I know on one of the case the argument appears to have been enough for the council to drop the 'can't go back more than 6 years' and change their stance to another point of rejection but hey ho that's life.
    CIS is correct in what he says re the Council relying on the 'Arca' case, but that ruling has now in effect been corrected.
    It has but try telling local authorities that - I have to point it out quite often ! I know of one local authority who not too long back won a case by using Arca on the same issues that that have since been corrected and clarified by the President. It was, in my opinion, a failing by the tribunal not to have considered the later clarifications as it would have clearly altered the decision if they had. It seems the like person in that case represented themselves and were unfortunately not aware of the later cases and, if the council knew, they weren't letting on.
    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.
  • Hi.

    Can I first start by apologising. I had not seen your reply to my post until this evening and I appreciate you taking the time and trouble to reply to me.

    I have removed the authority from my post as you have advised, but it is obviously still there in quote form in a reply to my post and I can’t remove it from there.

    I will try to digest what you have said in the next day or so and welcome any advice you can give.
    At this very moment I’m dealing with a financial assessment form, attendance allowance form and a housing benefit form for my father who has recently moved into assisted living after receiving injuries from being hit by a car and hopefully I will get them completed in a day or so and can then focus on considering where to go with regards my own claim for backdated council tax.

    Thanks
    Dave.
  • Hi. Not sure if this is off topic, but I have just applied for this discount with Glasgow City Council for my mum who has brain damage. The injury occured in 2007 and her GP signed the form confirming this. When I spoke to Council Tax about backdating, the operator told me they have no rules on backdating so just put whatever date I wanted on the form.

    I only posted the form yesterday but will report back here about the outcome.
  • CISCIS Forumite
    11.9K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts
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    Hi. Not sure if this is off topic, but I have just applied for this discount with Glasgow City Council for my mum who has brain damage. The injury occured in 2007 and her GP signed the form confirming this. When I spoke to Council Tax about backdating, the operator told me they have no rules on backdating so just put whatever date I wanted on the form.

    I only posted the form yesterday but will report back here about the outcome.


    The earliest date is that on which there is an entitlement to a qualifying benefit and the SMI status has been certified, if this is 2007 then that date would be the correct one to give - for them to say to use any date is potentially going to mislead people.
    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.
  • I tried to claim this for my mother-in-law who suffered from dementia and lived with us for the last 10 years of her life. I provided doctors letter etc but the council insisted we provide proof that my wife received attendance allowance for caring for her. This is impossible to get after the event, she died in 2008.
    Has this situation changed now?

    Mick McCaffrey
    [email protected]
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