Couple claims £10,000 council tax rebate after watching Martin Lewis on TV
The parents of a woman with multiple sclerosis claimed a £10,000 tax refund on her behalf after learning about a little-known discount.
Ronnie, 65, and his wife may never have come across the 'severely mentally impaired' (SMI) council tax discount if they hadn't watched MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis discuss it on TV.
The couple were able to claim back council tax payments dating back to 2013 on behalf of their daughter Leanne, 41, who was forced to stop working in 2009 due to her multiple sclerosis.
Not only that, East Lothian Council in Scotland have waived all future tax bills going forward for Leanne, who lives alone.
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The family said the savings Leanne will be getting as a result will be "immense", and it couldn't come soon enough – as people across the country continue to struggle with the cost of living crisis.
They were "inspired to apply" for the SMI after watching ITV's The Martin Lewis Money Show in October.
However, they are still far too few eligible people aware of the opportunity to potentially save thousands of pounds.
Could you be eligible?
You may be able to apply for the SMI discount if you, or someone you live with, is severely mentally impaired.
In order to prove this, you'll need to get a certificate to prove your condition from a medical professional such as your GP.
You'll also need to check with your local council to prove your eligibility for certain benefits, according to the government.
What you can get, and how to apply
If you qualify as severely mentally impaired, you will be given a 100% discount on council tax - but on two conditions.
You must either live on your own, or the other adults in your house must either be full-time students, or qualify as severely mentally impaired.
If this doesn't apply, then you could still be eligible for a 50% discount on your tax bill if you live with an adult carer, or with someone with other council tax exemptions (for example if they are under-18).
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If you live with someone who qualifies as severely mentally impaired, your home will get the standard 25% single person reduction.
But if someone lives with two more adults who qualify for council tax, the household will unfortunately not be entitled to any discounts.
You can check here to see if you're eligible to apply and contact your local council to ask the process.
Can I receive backdated payments
When submitting your claim you should ask councils if they can backdate payments you would have been eligible for had you applied earlier.
Each council can decide their own policy on this, according to MoneySavingExpert, with some backdating by six years and others starting from the point the applicant was receiving a particular benefit.
Some councils are only thought to provide a backdated payment upon request, so it's always worth asking the question.
Disabled band reduction scheme
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You may also be able to get your council tax reduced to the next lowest band if you or someone you live with is disabled and live in a larger property than you'd need if no one in the household had a disability.
For example, if your property is a Band D, you'd be charged the Band C rate, and if you were already in Band A, the lowest category, you'll receive a 17% discount on your bill instead.
To apply, you'll have to show that you have either an extra bathroom, kitchen or other room that you need for the disabled person, or an extra space inside the home for using a wheelchair.