1. Expert Q&A: Living well as a carer - Thurs 29 August, 3-4pm

    As a carer for a person living with dementia, the needs of the person you care for will often come before your own. You may experience a range of difficult emotions and you may not have the time to do all the things you need to do. Caring can have a big impact on both your mental and physical health, as well as your overall wellbeing.

    Angelo, our Knowledge Officer (Wellbeing) is our expert on this topic. He will be here to answer your questions on Thursday 29 August between 3-4pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

  1. jellymac

    jellymac Registered User

    Nov 29, 2014
    62
    West Midlands
    Hi

    Please may i ask about council tax, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January 2011, my dad looked after her until she had to go into a care home April last year. About 6-8 months ago i read about getting discounts on council tax once someone is diagnosed with Dementia and that you can claim back from previous years. My dad has claimed from when my mom was diagnosed and her doctor has sent the council a signed letter to confirm when she was diagnosed. The council have finally responded he is entitled to some back but only from 2014 when he started to receive attendance allowance. Is this correct that you can only claim it back if you have certain benefits? The reason my dad didnt claim for benefits before 2014 was because nobody informed him that he could, it was only when my mom went to day care a lady that worked there told him. There hasnt been anything ive read that says its benefit related. If anyone knows that would be lovely, thank you.
     
  2. Philbo

    Philbo Registered User

    Feb 28, 2017
    646
    Male
    Kent
    Hi

    Similar thing happened to us - no-one told me about Attendance Allowance when wife diagnosed in Jan 2014. I found out by accident 3 months later (after someone mentioned it at our local dementia support group) and though my wife would have been eligible from her 65th birthday (also that January), the DWP would not back-date, so we lost just over 3 months of AA.

    Fast forward a couple of years and I found out about council tax reduction. Indeed, you have to be in receipt of another benefit (AA in my wife's case) so I applied to our district council.

    The reduction was granted but only back-dated to when she started getting AA - so in effect, we "lost" 3 months again. I did try to get them to go back to when she should have got AA (her 65th birthday) but they were adamant that it was from the time AA was granted.

    You will need to check your council's website but I've pasted the list of eligible benefits from our district council:
    To get this discount or exemption the person must be entitled to one of the following benefits

    Attendance Allowance
    Constant Attendance Allowance
    the high or mid rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
    an increase in the rate of Disablement Pension
    Incapacity Benefit
    Employment and Support Allowance
    Income Support (which includes a disability premium)
    the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
    Severe Disablement Allowance
    Unemployability Supplement
    Unemployability Allowance


    Hope this helps.
    Phil
     
  3. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,740
    Salford
    Someone is disregarded for CT purposes when they have a "severe mental impairment" under section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, section 6.
    The guidance as to how this is implemented are generally taken to be as Philbo has listed but the rules do say that someone only has to have an "underlying entitlement" to the benefit that that they are in receipt of the benefit so what you and Phil were told isn't strictly correct.
    That said if you could get the GP to write a letter saying that from a certain date the person had a "severe mental impairment" then you could claim the backdate, however, GP's have been known to get sticky on whether an impairment is; mild, moderate or severe. A diagnosis of AZ is not itself proof of an SMI.
    As you appear to have a letter from the doctor giving a diagnosis date before the AA was given then the discount should be from that date not the AA date.
    it is worth saying that you're not claiming a benefit here, the LA has unlawfully levied CT on a person who is not eligible in breech of section 6 of the act, effectively they have acted unlawfully, I would point that out to them and see what they say.
    As always please do it in writing or e-mail don't use the phone, paper trails are very useful so is copying your local MP:)
    K

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/14/section/6
     
  4. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    2,046
    Staffs
    Are you sure that the LA are acting unlawfully? How are the LA to know if someone maybe for a eligible for the discount if the person/PoA does not tell them?:confused:
     
  5. jellymac

    jellymac Registered User

    Nov 29, 2014
    62
    West Midlands
    Thank you very much for your replies, i really appreciate it. The council have told my dad he can appeal but its unlikely he'll get back for the 3 years he didnt have attendance allowance.
     
  6. BJS

    BJS Registered User

    Feb 10, 2017
    75
    Though we knew my dad probably had dementia for a few years, we only took him to be officially diagnosed when someone told us about the council tax. He is very old and we were all coping so there didn't seem much point in an official diagnosis (maybe daft). I applied as soon as I could and the tax exemption was back dated to the date of diagnosis so he received a refund. As his self funded care is now well over £50,000 a year every little helps. I have read online about people appealing a decision not to get the paid tax back and winning. So if the council turns you down, I would say fight for it. I don't think they have a legal right to refuse. Good luck
     
  7. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    22,501
    Female
    Near Southampton
    I understood that the mental impairment has to be severe enough to have AA to warrant the reduction in council tax. My husband's was dated from the date the AA was agreed.
     
  8. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,740
    Salford
    The person, in law must have a severe mental impairment diagnosed by a suitable qualified person. Receiving certain benefits (of which AA is just one) isn't required.
    The person need only have an "underlying entitlement" to the benefit they don't actually need to be getting it, some people choose not to claim.
    As I've said my wife got the disregard without getting my wife AA, she was and still is too young to get AA and I'm sure there are others on here in the same position.
    The disregard applies to anyone with an SMI not just people with AZ, Downs syndrome, autism, accidental brain damage & mental illness all qualify but only the over 65's will be getting AA.
    I fell for the "you have to be getting AA" myth and didn't apply, when I found out the facts I did apply it was backdated to the diagnosis date hence I don't want to see other people fall for it.
    K
     
  9. istherelight?

    istherelight? Registered User

    Feb 15, 2017
    111
    Interesting! My mother's council said they would only backdate her rebate to the date she was granted AA. She was diagnosed 2 years prior to that but we didn't know about AA or council tax disregard.

    Seems it's OK to have to pay a fortune for care yet be begrudged any comparatively small amount that PWDs should be entitled to automatically. I even included the via diagnosis letter in the hope of getting a bit more out of the tightwads.


    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
     
  10. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,629
    Female
    London
    To be honest, I think it's up to a council's discretion. If you have to be in receipt of a certain allowance to receive the disregard, it follows that the council says they'll only backdate to when that allowance was granted. Yet my council took the date of diagnosis that the GP put on the form and ran with it, backdating to that point, which was a nice surprise.
     
  11. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,740
    Salford
    I hate disagreeing with Beate:) ...but it's not up to the LA's discretion.
    The Local Government Finance act, section 6, paragraph 2 says specifically "A person falls within this subsection in relation to any chargeable dwelling and any day if, on that day" note the "on that day" bit. On the day when you can prove someone has an SMI they are no longer eligible for CT and the LA should refund to that date.
    I had a letter from a consultant at the memory clinic to the GP saying that she'd seen my wife, that she had a severe mental impairment and recommended the GP prescribe Aricept. At the time we weren't getting any benefits they came later and were backdated to the date quoted in the letter that the consultant has seen my wife.
    Councils have to backdate to the time you have "an underlying claim" to a benefit not that actually receive it not that the benefit is the qualification, the proof of the existence of an SMI is the legal requirement not the receipt of anything, the legal requirement is proof of the SMI nothing more.
    K
     
  12. istherelight?

    istherelight? Registered User

    Feb 15, 2017
    111
    Thanks, Kevinl. Think I'll take this further. A rebate would pay for a few days in the CH and taking on the authorities does distract me from the whole horror of the situation.


    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
     
  13. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,629
    Female
    London
    I'm just thinking that a diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean someone is "severely mentally impaired". They might be years away from that and from qualifying for AA, which is why to get the disregard you have to show you qualify for AA etc and hence you only get it from that date? Just speculating here so don't jump on me, Kevin. :)
     
  14. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,740
    Salford
    Can you read my mind :D:D:D
    When Poll Tax was replaced by Council Tax it was under the Local Government Finance Act 1992, that set out who and where Council Tax could be charged, like a lot of laws it is a very broad brush which sets out the principles but doesn't cover all the fine detail.
    It does, however, say that on of the classes of people who do not count for CT are people with a "Severe Mental Impairment", other groups like children and students for example don't count either.
    To get the disregard you simply have to prove the SMI, for ease the LA's decided that certain benefits would be proof as to get things like DLA, mobility allowance, AA to name a few as to get these you would have normally been interviewed by someone from the DWP so if you managed to convince them then that's good enough proof for the LA who probably don't even have anyone capable of making this kind of assessment.
    All istherelight has to do is prove that date and that a suitably qualified person will state that the impairment was a "Severe Mental Impairment" and give a date, that satisfied the requirements for the disregard.
    I was lucky (if that's the right word) that a letter from the memory clinic to the GP used the specific phrase SMI, not just an impairment or difficulties or some other similar phrase, I showed this to the LA and they used that as the date.
    She had been ill and seen by the GP for some time before that about her memory but I had no documentation to prove when she went from mild to moderate to severe but I couldn't prove she was defined as being severe until the consultant put it in writing.
    K
     
  15. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    2,046
    Staffs
    Can you please tell me where in the legislation your statement comes from?:confused:
     
  16. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    2,046
    Staffs
    Unfortunately jellymac & istherelight? You have been given the wrong information by kevinl. Luckily it has been the weekend so hopefully you haven’t been berating any council staff.

    Beate, Philbo and Saffie are correct in that you do need to be entitled to a qualifying benefit as well as the GP letter (or equivalent). The LA also has some discretion as when they back date any discount and what paperwork they actually need to see. Councils like my own and many others I have looked at have the necessary information on their web pages. :)

    Kevinl,

    The advice you have given that LA’s are acting unlawfully, “for ease”, decided to add the benefits bit and that the legislation is a “broad brush” and does not cover fine details is absolute rubbish.

    Actual Legislation is quite complicated and not an easy read at all. When you cherry pick a particular section it requires understanding of where you are in the Act, the actual purpose of that section and then also going on to read any explanations/meanings/guidance that it helpfully points you in the directions of. You have not done this with Sec 6.

    The link you provide to Sec 6 deals solely with who in the household the bill will fall to as “Persons liable to pay council tax”.

    Sub Sec 1 & 2 explains who those people are.

    Sub Sec 3 explains how if there is more than one person is in the house they shall be held jointly and severely liable.

    Sub Sec 4 refers back to Sub Sec 3 saying that those that Have Been disregarded by virtue of Schedule 1 (SMI being one of the possibilities) are not liable and goes on how to explain how those that are left in the property are then liable.

    You seem to have taken that the mention of SMI not being liable to mean that is all you need to get the CT reduction. What you failed to do is look at what the Act actually says in Schedule 1.

    To do this click on “Table of Contents” and scroll down.

    Sec 2 covers SMI.

    Sub Sec 1 states (I have enlarged the “and” as “c” is very important)………

    A person shall be disregarded for the purposes of discount on a particular day if—
    (a) on the day he is severely mentally impaired;
    (b) as regards any period which includes the day he is stated in a certificate of a registered medical practitioner to have been or to be likely to be severely mentally impaired; and
    (c) as regards the day he fulfils such conditions as may be prescribed by order made by the Secretary of State.


    You need to conform to all 3 parts to be eligible for a CT reduction.

    So it is now telling you to find the conditions set by the SoS. These will not be included in the legislation as they can be open to constant change.

    The Council Tax (Discount Disregards) Order 1992

    Sec 3 covers SMI and lists the qualifying benefits the person has to be entitled to qualify for the discount which have already been posted in the thread.
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/548/contents/made
     
  17. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013
    5,990
    Cotswolds
    I wish someone had helped me with all this at the time I was struggling with my husband's everyday difficulties and vehement denial of his diagnosis, refusal to give up driving, refusal to accept a day centre even if one had been available for someone so disruptive. That alone needed all my attention and energy...and didn't allow the opportunity to make or receive phone calls or even do paperwork, because he thought he could do it, and opposed anything I attempted.

    We were given the diagnosis and I was left to get on with it.
     
  18. istherelight?

    istherelight? Registered User

    Feb 15, 2017
    111
    Oh, Raggeddy Anne, it must be so extra difficult when your life partner has this wretched disease. Whatever I feel and however much I have been upset over my Mum, I am so grateful to be able to go home to my supportive husband.

    And to have to cope with all the admin etc whilst trying to give 24/7 care to a partner who has no understanding of their condition must be a huge challenge. I know I didn't know where to start so it must have been very hard for you. Like being chucked in the ocean!





    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
     
  19. Meecey

    Meecey Registered User

    Dec 11, 2016
    5
    South Yorkshire
    I'm having exactly the same problem! The council seem to use the wording "in receipt of" instead of "entitled to" a qualifying benefit which to me isn't same thing. I've got a date at the end of the month to attend a valuation tribunal so fingers crossed it'll work in our favour (dad was diagnosed in 2010 but didn't claim AA until 2015) it's just so frustrating isn't it?
     

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