Finance Minister Rebecca Evans and MoneySavingExpert.com’s Martin Lewis will today join forces to launch a standard application procedure for council tax support in Wales for people with a severe mental impairment.
Developed with MoneySavingExpert.com – the UK’s biggest consumer website – and local authorities, this new approach puts Wales at the forefront of steps to make council tax fairer.
For the first time, people who have received a severely mentally impaired (SMI) diagnosis and meet the eligibility criteria will be treated consistently throughout Wales to ensure they receive the same support and discounts no matter where they live. They will also be able to claim back any council tax discounts, to the point when they were diagnosed.
To access this support the Welsh Government, MoneySavingExpert.com and Welsh local authorities, have developed a single, simple and easy-to-use form, which people with SMI can use to claim what they are entitled to. The form is now widely available in all local authorities and advice centres across Wales.
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“I am pleased the Welsh Government is leading the way with this new approach, helping some of the most vulnerable people access the discounts and support they are entitled to, and I’m very grateful to MoneySavingExpert and Martin Lewis for bringing this issue to our attention and working with us to address it.
“This is a great example of collaborative working and supports the Welsh Government’s commitment to make council tax fairer.
“We will continue to work closely with local authorities and the WLGA to encourage consistency in approaches to administering discounts and exemptions for everyone who is eligible.”
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said:
“Many of the most vulnerable within our society, those who are living with a ‘severe mental impairment’, have been eligible for a council tax discount for years, but sadly, across Britain have rarely been told it – meaning they’ve missed out on money that could’ve transformed their quality of life.
“Most councils haven’t helped spread the word, and disgracefully have often hindered people claiming by giving out misinformation. Some staff in our cold-calling exercise even told people the discount doesn’t exist, meaning there are huge differences in take-up across the country. That simply isn’t right.
“I’m delighted that our research and campaign has been so warmly welcomed in Wales, and congratulate the Welsh Government and Welsh local councils for their swift and comprehensive action once it was alerted to the issue. Wales will be a beacon of light on this, bringing justice and real, significant change that will help some of society’s most needy. My hope is that the rest of Britain comes out of the dark soon too, and we will continue to work on pushing that.”
This approach is the latest in a series of measures the Welsh Government is taking to make council tax fairer. On 1 April new legislation was introduced to remove imprisonment as a punishment for non-payment of council tax, and to exempt young people, up to the age of 25, who are leaving care from paying council tax in Wales.