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To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Backdate Council Tax Discount For Severely Mentally Impaired to the date certified by the GP
Clarify the Local Government Finance Act 1992 so that all Councils in England Backdate Council Tax Discount by adding "Having met the requirement to entitlement to one of the qualifying benefits the person shall be disregarded from the day certified by the registered medical practitioner".
Why is this important?
There are 850,000 people with Dementia in the UK and if a household has a person with Dementia (Severe Mental Impairment) such as Alzheimer's Disease or Vascular Dementia the local council is required to disregard (Not Count) the person with Dementia for the purposes of Council Tax. The current legislation says that the person must also be entitled to, but not necessarily in receipt of, a "Qualifying Benefit". For the majority of Dementia sufferers this will be Attendance Allowance, which requires the person to be over 65, have been in need of day/night care for a minimum of 6 months and the DWP who administer this allowance must be in receipt of an application form for the benefit.
Many councils choose to backdate to the date of receipt of Attendance Allowance as this is the last date and therefore the date they choose to minimise the cost of backdating the council tax discount.
My beautiful wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in early 2018, our council only backdate to the date of receipt of Attendance Allowance and I have been pushing them to change their policy. Central Government insist it is a local issue but the legislation is so unclear that many councils naturally choose the cheapest option.
Also there is no method (pathway)of informing sufferers and carers that either Attendance Allowance or Council Tax Discount is available, both of which are not means tested. Many carers do not apply for Attendance Allowance because they think it is means tested and it is a 31 page application form. Public Health England say that they cannot disclose details of anyone with Dementia to responsible charities because of privacy and data protection issues so people find out purely by chance.
The only way is to clarify the legislation which has already built into it in Schedule 1, section (3) the statement:- "The Secretary of State may by order substitute another definition.."