Benefits

Introduction:

If you care for a disabled child, you and your child may be entitled to some financial assistance and concessions to aid with the increase in living and travelling costs that are normally associated with caring for a child with disabilities.

There are several benefits that may be available to you and these include:

Some of the benefits are means tested and others are based on the needs of your child, but they can all seem very daunting, particularly when it comes to completing the forms. And as usual some are not processed particularly fast – so be prepared to wait.

1. Disability Living Allowance:

You can find further information in the "DLA" leaflet on our Links And Information page.

DLA as it is commonly referred to is for people who have a disability or an illness and is paid to their parent/guardian until the age of 16, after which it is paid to the child in their own right. It is not means tested and is also a tax free benefit. DLA is broken down into two parts - Help with Personal Care and Help with getting around outdoors. Your child may be entitled to one part or both dependent on their needs. Remember that to qualify for this allowance your Childs needs must be in excess of what a child without disabilities of the same age would need.

Lower rate component: is only available to children over 5 years of age who need significantly more help, guidance or supervision outdoors than any other children of their age.

Higher is for children who have severe difficulties walking, cannot walk, severe mental or behavioural problems. This is available from the age of 3 years of age.

Applying for Disability Living Allowance:

The application form is extensive (in two parts). Although you will have a good idea of your Childs day to day needs it may be useful to keep a diary of your child's daily care and supervision needs for a period before you fill the form in, as you may find this eases the completion process.

You can request a full claim pack for DLA from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 0845 712 3456 ensuring you request a DLA Child form.

You can also find more information including current rates from the DWP website and you can download application forms or apply on line at www.dwp.gov.uk/eservice

The claim pack is fairly comprehensive with step by step guidance and instructions on how to complete the forms.
But if there is something you don’t understand or need to clarify further then please contact us and we will endeavour to help in completing the forms.

2. Carers Allowance:

You can find further information in the "Carers" leaflet on our Links And Information page

This benefit is for people who are looking after a sick or disabled person. As with all government based benefits there are a number of criteria that will need to be satisfied to determine whether you would be entitled to this allowance, these can be simplified as follows:

There are some benefits that will prevent you from claiming Carers Allowance and others that will be affected if you do claim. For more information on Carers Allowance, contact Carers Allowance Unit on 01253 856123. You can also find more information including current rates from the DWP website and you can download application forms or apply on line at www.dwp.gov.uk/carersallowance/

3. Working and Child Tax Credits:

For more information on both Tax credits including rules and application forms, contact Inland Revenue Helpline on 0845 300 3900 or go to   www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/

In some cases if you are eligible for Tax credits you may also receive an exemption certificate from the NHS Prescription Pricing Authority.

4. Council Tax Discounts:

You may be able to claim a reduction in your Council Tax if your home has been adapted for a disabled person. If you are living in a bigger property because your disability would make it difficult for you to live in a smaller building, for example you need extra space for your wheelchair, you may be entitled to a reduction.

Are you eligible.

Also, the property must have one of the following:

What reduction you may get:

If you are able to get a reduction your property will be charged at a band lower than the property is worth. For example, a Band D property will be charged at Band C rate. Band A is the lowest band a house can be so if you have a Band A home you will still receive a reduction. It will be the same in cash terms as a house in Band B, C or D.

How to apply for a reduction:

Contact your local council and they will send you a form to fill in and return. A council officer may make an appointment to see you in your home (all council officers have an identification badge, ask to see it before you let them in). The council officer will make notes on what adaptations you have made to your home (if appropriate), and will want to see evidence of the benefits you get.

Remember, you will need to apply for the reduction; your council will not automatically apply it, even if you are registered with social services.

If your reduction is approved, you will see your reduction at the top of your next Council Tax bill.

Will the reduction or exemption be backdated?

Normally the reduction or exemption is backdated to the date you applied, so it's important to apply for a reduction or exemption straight away. Councils can backdate a reduction if appropriate.

5. Vehicle Road Tax Exemption:

If your child is on the higher rate of the mobility component for Disability Living Allowance and you have a vehicle that is being used for the direct purposes of the disabled child, you can apply for a Road Tax Exemption certificate (DLA 404).

How to apply for an exemption certificate:

Contact the Disability Benefits Unit on 0845 712 3456 (
7.30 am to 6.30 pm Monday to Friday). Remember that the details of the driver must appear on the certificate. Once in receipt of your certificate, as long as you have your vehicle registration documents together with a valid MOT (if applicable) and insurance paperwork you can get your free tax disc from the post office.

If you’re buying a new car, you can apply for a free tax disc through the dealer, you’ll need to give them your exemption certificate but make sure you get it back afterwards.

If you only have the ‘New Keepers’ part of the registration certificate V5C/2, you need to apply for a disc at your nearest Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Local Office. (The V5C/2 is only valid for two months from the date you bought the car). You’ll also need:

M6 Toll Road Exemptions:

If you are disabled or an organisation which transports disabled persons you may be entitled to a toll exemption for your vehicle when using the M6 Toll.

The Mobility Exemption Pass allows free passage of the nominated vehicle on the M6 Toll only. If you think you may be eligible for a Mobility Exemption Pass, you must apply to Midland Expressway Limited.
You must hold a valid Road Tax Exemption certificate
(DLA 404).

There is a £5.00 administration fee for the card.

Application forms are available from the M6Toll website HERE

6. Vehicle Purchase (Motability):

Buying and adapting a car can be expensive. The Motability Scheme - run by the independent not-for-profit organisation Motability - gives disabled people the opportunity to own or lease a car at an affordable price.

How the scheme works:

The Motability Scheme can help you with leasing (contract hire) or buying (hire purchase) a car if you're getting the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Even if you don't drive, you can apply for a car as a passenger and propose two other people as your drivers. You can also apply for a car on behalf of a child aged three or over, who is entitled to the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.

Contract hire:

Through the contract hire scheme you can lease a new car supplied by a Motability Accredited dealer for at least three years. Comprehensive insurance, routine servicing and breakdown assistance are included. You will need to pay for the fitting and removal of any adaptations.
You can apply if you have 12 months or more of your Disability Living Allowance 'award' remaining. If your award is not renewed during the full length of your chosen scheme, your car will need to be returned.
At the end of the period, the car is returned to Motability Operations who operate the car schemes under contract to Motability.

Hire purchase:

Hire purchase enables you to buy the car you want and this can be a new or used car. You are responsible for negotiating the purchase price of the car with the dealer and arranging insurance cover. At the end of the hire purchase agreement - which can be between two to five years - you will own the car.

Powered wheelchairs or scooters:

Motability also offers a hire purchase scheme for powered wheelchairs or scooters.

Financial help and VAT relief:

If money is a problem when financing the car or adaptations, Motability may be able to provide a grant through their own charitable fund or the
Specialised Vehicle Funds, which they administer for the government.

Disabled people don't have to pay VAT on the cost of hiring a car through the Motability Scheme. The cost of any work involved in adapting a vehicle for a disabled person is also eligible for VAT relief.

Visit the Motability Scheme website:

To find out more about the Motability Scheme, contact Motability on the numbers below, or visit their website.

Telephone: 0845 4564 566                 Text phone: 01279 632 273

For more information, visit the Motability website HERE

7. Blue Badge Parking Scheme:

The Blue Badge scheme (sometimes known as disabled parking permits) provides a range of parking benefits for disabled people with severe walking difficulties who travel either as drivers or as passengers. The scheme operates throughout the UK, and while travelling abroad within the European Union (EU) and in some other European countries.

The concessions only apply to on-street parking and include free use of parking meters and pay-and-display bays. Badge-holders may also be exempt from limits on parking times imposed on others and can park for up to three hours on yellow lines (except where there is a ban on loading or unloading or other restrictions).

You may qualify if you:

Where the scheme applies:

The Blue Badge scheme does not apply to off-street car parks, private roads or at most airports.
Your social services department at your council will tell you how to apply for a Blue Badge – contact them for more information.

              A list of EU countries where the scheme applies can be found HERE

London congestion charge:

Blue Badge holders qualify for a 100 per cent exemption from the congestion charge but you must register with Transport For London (TFL), before
travelling. An application form is available from TFL.

Telephone: 0845 900 1234                 Minicom users: 020 7649 9123

Download the ‘Blue Badge 100% discount’ form (PDF document, 130K)
 

Misuse of disabled parking bays (Blue Badge parking bays):

It is an offence to park a vehicle which is not displaying a badge in a Blue Badge parking bay. If you spot misuse you should report it to a traffic warden (or parking enforcement officer), the local police or the local council (who are responsible for issuing badges).

‘Off-street’ disabled parking bays such as supermarkets:

Most disabled persons' parking bays in off-street car parks – for example, supermarket car parks – are not covered by Blue Badge scheme regulations.

Car parks and parking bays like these are likely to be privately owned and managed by the individual business. The agreement, and any cost to use them, will be between the owner and the motorists/customers.

If you are a carer/parent of a disabled child passenger and you complain to, for example, a supermarket that a non-disabled motorist has parked in a disabled bay, an employee of the store could ask the driver to move their car from the disabled bay but they will not be in a position to legally insist on it.

If you think that people are unfairly parking in disabled bays, speak or write to the management of the store or car park.

The government (Department for Transport) supports ‘Baywatch’ – a partnership between several major supermarkets and disability organisations – including the Disabled Drivers’ Association. The campaign aims to end the abuse of parking bays put aside for disabled drivers’ use.

     Visit the 'Baywatch' campaign website HERE


8. House Adaptations (Disabled Facilities Grant - DFG):

This is a grant that we have been awarded and are fully familiar with its processes (when means testing was still applicable – what a nightmare thankfully this no longer applies). We are more than happy to discuss our adaptations and provide assistance to you with regard to design and specification of equipment. We found that the original occupational therapist (OT) assessment was inadequate and proposed amendments which were approved by another OT (we would be happy to review any assessments you feel are inadequate).

You may have noticed that most disabled equipment by its nature is bulky, metal and ugly but there is some very nice equipment available – remember just because you have a disabled child there is no reason why you can’t have bespoke and designer equipment  that looks good as well as fit for the purpose and needs of the disabled child, again we would be happy to review your equipment requirements/specification.

Here are some general details about the DFG:

Adapting your home:

If you need improvements and adaptations to your home to help your child to live there, you can ask the social services department of your local council to do an assessment of your home.

Usually, an occupational therapist will assess what adaptations are appropriate to meet your childs needs in your home. If they agree that you need adaptations to your home they will make a recommendation report to you and your local council who will then request you to complete an application form and hopefully you will be awarded a Disabled Facilities Grant.

Disabled Facilities Grants:

Local councils are required by law to give Disabled Facilities Grants to eligible applicants to make houses suitable for disabled people/children. The good news is that
Families in England needing to adapt their homes to care for a disabled child are no longer subject to means testing from December 2005.

The Government's decision makes it easier for families to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to get funding for help to provide access ramps, stair lifts, level access showers and home extensions.

The change, which ensures families are entitled to apply for the maximum grant available without having to go through a means test, will mean they can now apply for up to the maximum limit of £25,000 for disability improvements to their home.

Grants can be used on any adaptation that will make it easier for the disabled child to get into and around your home, or (for example) to provide a suitably adapted bedroom and bathroom facilities or heating and heating control equipment.

Extra help that may be available:

Sometimes, local councils may provide assistance by way of a ‘top-up’ grant to the DFG which in some areas can be as much as an additional £8,000. They may also provide low cost loans as well as grants to private homeowners and others to help renovate, repair or adapt their home.

They may also provide other sorts of assistance, for example helping someone move to more suitable living accommodation if it is satisfied that this would provide a similar benefit to improving or adapting the existing accommodation.

For more information, contact the Environmental Health or Housing Department of your local council.

Home Improvement Agencies:

If you are arranging for adaptation work to be carried out yourself, you may be able to get help from a Home Improvement Agency. They are not-for-profit organisations, which are often managed locally by councils or housing associations. They can:

"Foundations", a national coordinating body for Home Improvement Agencies, can give you details of agencies in your area.

Visit the Foundations website HERE 

Find out about planning permission and building regulations locally:

It's important to get planning permission and find out about building regulations before you begin any major building alterations. Contact your local authority or visit their website where you can find out more.

Choosing trades-people and builders:

If you decide to hire a tradesperson or builder yourself, it’s important to choose someone who operates legally and is qualified for the job. Ideally choose someone who is recommended to you and therefore whose work you can inspect for quality and who is familiar with disabled adaptations and DFG funding.

Always obtain two/three estimates for the work – don’t automatically choose the cheapest option – try to assess which one has the best reputation and highest standard of workmanship, a bad job has to be redone and always costs more.

The other thing to remember is that the council will not pay the final bill (ie. release the DFG funds) until they have inspected the completed works and approved it – this actually took 3 months to do from our builder completing the works to the payment being issued, so make sure you fully discuss with your builder/tradesperson that the work is being undertaken as a disabled adaptation and payment is from a DFG fund which means they potentially may have to wait a few months for final payment after completion of the work – any builder or tradesperson familiar with disabled adaptations and DFG funding will be willing to wait.

You don’t want to end up in a dispute over payments which can cause delays in completing the work or you taking on any high interest loans to meet the payment. Be upfront and negotiate arrangements before appointing the tradesperson or builder.

9. VAT relief on products and services:

VAT is a tax that you pay as a consumer when you buy goods and services in the European Union (EU), including the United Kingdom. In the UK the standard rate for VAT is 20.0 per cent.

Disabled people don’t have to pay VAT when they buy equipment that has been designed for disabled people or when they have equipment adapted so they can use it.

Also, VAT is not charged on certain services provided to disabled people, including building work to adapt a disabled person’s home and the hire of disability equipment like wheelchairs. 

Goods and services on which you don't have to pay VAT are often referred to as 'zero-rated' or 'eligible for VAT relief'. In other words, the rate of VAT that is charged on them is zero.

The rules about VAT relief for disabled people are complex. Not everything that is supplied to disabled people is zero-rated for VAT.

Who is eligible for VAT relief:

VAT law states that you must be ‘chronically sick or disabled’ to qualify for VAT relief.  A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if they:

A person with a temporary injury like a broken leg would not qualify, nor would a frail older person who was generally able-bodied.

A product or service must also be supplied for the 'personal and domestic use' of a chronically sick or disabled person to qualify for zero-rating.  Things not covered by this include:

Products that are eligible for VAT relief:

Some examples of products that are zero-rated for VAT:

Services that are eligible for VAT relief:

Leasing a vehicle or wheelchair under the Motability Scheme:

Motability is a charity that provides vehicles and powered wheelchairs to disabled people. You don’t have to pay VAT when you lease a vehicle or wheelchair under the Motability Scheme.

Adaptations to your home:

The work involved in some adaptations to disabled people’s homes is eligible for VAT relief.
However, the rules about adaptations to buildings and VAT are complex. You should always ask whether the adaptation work to your home will be eligible for VAT relief when you’re hiring a builder or other tradesperson.

Hiring disability equipment:

You don’t have to pay VAT when you hire qualifying disability equipment. This applies to large equipment, like powered wheelchairs and hoists (which is usually hired from private companies) and specialised equipment for people with specific disabilities (which is often available from disability organisations and charities).

How VAT relief works:

Before you pay for any product or service, check that it qualifies for zero-rating and that the supplier is registered for VAT.

When you buy a zero-rated product or service, you may have to sign a form declaring that you have a chronic illness or disability and what it is. You must also declare that the product or service is for your own ‘personal or domestic use’. The supplier should have copies of this form.

You can then buy the product or service at a price that excludes VAT. You don’t have to pay VAT and then reclaim it from the government – it will be taken off the purchase price before you pay.

You can find an example of the declaration form on the  HM Revenue & Customs website here.  VAT reliefs for disabled people