Council tax discount and dementia

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If you live with an adult who has dementia or another mental impairment, you could be missing out on a council tax discount. Under the rules, they may not need to pay council tax and that could mean a reduction for you as well. Find out about council tax discounts and dementia.

Council tax discounts and dementia

Most adults have to pay council tax. You pay it whether you own or rent your home. If you live on your own, you are able to claim a 25% discount. It’s called the single person discount.

If you live with someone who has dementia then they get a ‘disregard’ rather than a discount.

SAVVY TIP: This information relates to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has a system of rates, not council tax.

The dementia disregard

If you have an illness like dementia where you have a severe mental impairment, you don’t have to pay council tax. Instead, you qualify for a disregard. This means that you don’t have to pay any council tax at all. The term most often used by local councils is the ‘severe mental impairment disregard’.

If you qualify for this council tax disregard and you live with one other adult, they will then qualify for the single person discount.  Why? Well, because you are ‘disregarded’ for the purposes of council tax, an adult you live with is treated as if they live on their own. That means they are entitled to the single person discount. So they are able to claim 25% off their council tax bill. This only applies if you live with one other adult. If more than two adults live with you, they pay the full rate of council tax.

How you qualify for the dementia disregard

In order to get this particular council tax disregard, you have to:

  • Have a severe mental impairment. That could be as a result of dementia or Parkinson’s,  or because of a severe learning disability. Having a severe mental impairment is not linked to a diagnosis of a specific disease.
  • Have a ‘Council Tax Severe Mental Impairment Doctor’s Certificate’. A GP must sign the certificate to say that, in their view, the severe mental impairment is permanent.

SAVVY TIP: If you’ve had an accident that results in a brain injury, you wouldn’t necessarily qualify for a council tax disregard if a GP thought your severe mental impairment was temporary.

  • Be eligible for one of a list of disability benefits. The list is quite long, but it includes Attendance Allowance (at the lower or higher rate), Disability Living Allowance (receiving the higher or middle rate care components) or Personal Independence Payment where you receive the lower or higher rate of the daily living component.

Benefits you must be in receipt of

You have to receive one or more of the following benefits in order to qualify for the Council Tax disregard.

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (higher or middle rate care component)
  • An increase in disablement pension (as constant attendance is needed)
  • Disability Working Allowance
  • Unemployability Supplement or Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Income Support (which includes a disability premium)
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Universal Credit (in circumstances where a person has limited capability for work and/or work related activity)

How to apply

You, someone with power of attorney or your carer should contact your council, in the first instance. They will be able to provide a form to claim the council tax disregard. The problem is that councils don’t tend to publicise this and they may have different forms and systems for applying. Persevere, though, because the money you can save, and the amount you can get back through backdated claims, can be significant.

SAVVY TIP: You should be able to get a refund of the overpaid council tax going back to when you were diagnosed with your mental health impairment. However, not all councils take the same approach.

If you live in Wales, there’s a website that has all the information on how to claim the Council Tax disregard. Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert campaigned to make it easier for people to claim this disregard and to get money backdated. The Welsh government has now got a one-stop-shop website with information on the severe mental impairment council tax disregard. 

It should be relatively straightforward to claim this disregard, discount or exemption. Charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society have information on council tax if you have dementia.

Useful links:

Alzheimer’s Society: Council tax and dementia 

Parkinson’s Society: Help with council tax 

Related articles: 

Finding a care home for a relative who has dementia. How easy is it to find a good care home?

Setting up a lasting power of attorney

What are deferred payment agreements if you need to pay for your long-term care?

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