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Is someone exempt from Council Tax where there stay in hospital has not officially been made “permanent”?

Benefits38
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Welfare Benefits Team, The Money Carer Foundation

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Hello

I have a client who has been in hospital for ten months.  However, the council are refusing to treat the client’s property (which they own) as being an unoccupied dwelling and therefore exempt from Council Tax.  The council’s justification for this is that the client’s stay in the hospital is not treated as being permanent and there has not been a date set for a move to a care home.  This seems unfair as the client has been in hospital for ten months and because of dementia it seems unlikely that they will ever return to their home.

Thanks

Helen Rogers
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Welfare rights officer - Stockport MBC

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You could apply for an exemption on the grounds of “Severe Mental Impairment.”

Benefits38
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Helen Rogers - 19 September 2019 03:22 PM

You could apply for an exemption on the grounds of “Severe Mental Impairment.”

Thanks for your help Helen.  Unfortunately, the client is not on a qualifying benefit and he would not be awarded Attendance Allowance as he is in hospital.

Helen Rogers
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He should be treated as entitled to ESA as he would be entitled if under pension age.  After all, hospital inpatient = automatic LCW.

Benefits38
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Helen Rogers - 19 September 2019 04:22 PM

He should be treated as entitled to ESA as he would be entitled if under pension age.  After all, hospital inpatient = automatic LCW.

The client is too old for ESA.

WROTricia
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One of the qualifying conditions is that a client would be on a qualifying benefit “but for the fact they are over pension age”. The council would have to be pretty horrific to refuse this person an SMI.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Further to the above or as well.

What about asking the LA to consider using their powers under Section 13A (1) (c) Local Government Finance Act 1992 - giving a billing authority power to reduce ‘as it sees fit’ the amount of Council Tax payable. In this case asking that the client’s Council Tax payable for the periods concerned is reduced to nil, in recognition of their extenuating circumstances. As well as the other suggestions. Doing the above in unison with contacting the local MP for help who would write to the LA CEO or head of revenue and benefits.

Because it sounds like you’ve hit an impasse and may well be dealing with a LA worker or section who is/are being intransigent. So bypassing them through the MP may be the quickest way to remedy the situation.

Benefits38
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Thanks for all the help.