Martin Lewis' advice helps reader get £5,000 council tax refund and £15,000 to do up home

Martin Lewis' advice helps reader get £5,000 council tax refund and £15,000 to do up home

05/29/2021

THE advice of Martin Lewis has helped a MoneySavingExpert reader get a £5,000 council tax refund and £15,000 to convert his home.

The reader – called Frank – wrote a letter to the consumer site outlining how he claimed the cash back because of a neurological illness he has.

If you – or someone you live with – has a disability, a health condition or are a carer, you can get money off your council tax because you are eligible for a severe mental impairment discount.

The discount you can get varies depending on your circumstances, but you could be eligible for a 100% discount if you are severely mentally impaired and live alone.

Frank qualifies for a severe mental impairment discount because of his illness.

To be classed as this, you have to be medically certified as having a “a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused) which appears to be permanent”.

In his letter, which was published in MoneySavingExpert’s latest newsletter, Frank said he first discovered he could get the discount after reading about it on the consumer website.

He put in a claim and was told he had successfully qualified for the discount and was due a refund, receiving backdated payments of £5,000.

It also means he pays less council tax in the future.

How to check your council tax bill and whether it’s gone up

MANY local authorities hiked council tax bills in April – here’s how to check if you’re now paying more.

You'll first need to find out what council tax band your home is in to work out how much you have to pay.

This can be done on Gov.uk for homes in England an Wales, or on the Scottish Assessors website if you live in Scotland.

You'll need to enter in your postcode and scroll through the listed addresses to find yours.

Local councils must contact you directly to let you know if your bill is going up or down, for example, via a letter or email.

If you still haven't heard from your council, you should contact them directly.

The contact details of your local council can be found on the Gov.uk postcode checker.

Frank also outlined how Martin Lewis’ advice helped him get a further £15,000 to convert his house as well.

His condition meant he was able to apply for a grant from his local council to cover all the costs of converting his home to make it more suitable for his needs following a recent fall and stint in hospital.

Frank was concerned he would have to fork out the cost of turning one of his rooms downstairs into a part-wetroom, part-bedroom – which would have been a stretch on his low income.

But after remembering he was eligible for financial help, he secured a grant to cover the cost of the works. 

He wrote to MoneySavingExpert: “I am writing to thank you heartily, and to let others know that the SMI reduction could have secondary benefits as well as the actual reduction in council tax.”

Who else is eligible for a council tax discount?

Frank is one of potentially thousands of Brits who could be overpaying on council tax.

If you’re on Universal Credit, benefits, or a low income, you could be eligible for up to 100% off your bill.

But it depends on where you live and what your circumstances are, as each local authority runs its own tax reduction scheme.

Other factors which will affect your discount include your earnings, household income, the number of children you have and how many people live with you, whether you’re on benefits, and your residency status.

What do I do if I’m overpaying?

If you think you are overpaying on council tax, you can check yourself – and you could get back thousands of pounds.

The first step is to check what council tax band your neighbours are on – you can then see if it matches your band.

Finally, you'll also need to work out how much your property was worth in 1991, as this is when council tax was launched by the government.

MoneySavingExpert has a free calculator tool to help you do this, as well as a table on what band you should have been put in.

If you want to go ahead with a challenge, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.

It could be a good idea to check your bill in order to beat the council tax hikes that came into force in April.

A number of councils pushed up council tax bills by up to 5% last month, meaning millions of families are now forking out over £100 a year more.

Martin Lewis has also warned vulnerable Brits could be missing out on Universal Credit due to tricky paperwork.

He's also urged households to switch energy bills now as prices rise.

Plus, the financial guru has urged holidaymakers to shop around for cheapest Covid tests.

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