Charity Ability Access has revealed that councils are failing to inform or promote discounts or band reductions to council tax for disabled people, costing disabled people £500m per year.
Disabled people are entitled to a council tax band reduction if they meet a number of criteria, which include having an additional bathroom or kitchen in the home which serves the needs of the disabled resident; a permanently disabled resident who uses a wheelchair indoors; or if the home has a room – excluding a bathroom, kitchen, or toilet, which exists to meet the needs of the home’s disabled resident.
Using Leicester as an example, the charity revealed that the of the 22,220 wheelchair users in the area, only 291 people have applied for a council tax band reduction in the last five years. Ability Access said: “If the average council tax banding discount is £143 year from Leicester CityCouncil tax banc D-C. Leicester City have collected over £3.3 million pounds per year, for the last five years which they were not entitled to have, over £16.5 million pounds.
“This is just one example from the hundreds of councils across the UK that collect council tax and adding up all the councils across the UK the total amount collected is close to half a billion pounds a year or two and a half billion in the last five years.”
Speaking to the BBC, Simon Sansome, director of Ability Access, said: “Councils across the country aren’t telling these people, and all the councils across the country equated to half a billion pounds, This is basically going to be the new PPI of the UK – for claiming back council tax. Council tax hasn’t been missold – people haven’t been informed.”
In a statement to the BBC, Leicester City Council said all available discounts for people are mentioned on the reverse of its council tax bills and directed people to its website. They added that staff had been briefed to raise awareness of the disabled persons’ reduction.
Image: Flickr/Vincent LiGet your copy of UNITE Magazine