If you live with someone who has dementia or learning difficulties, you could be missing out on a council tax discount.

Most adults have to pay council tax. You pay it whether you own or rent your home. If you live on your own, you are able to claim a 25% discount. It’s called the single person discount.

If you live with someone who has dementia then they get a ‘disregard’ rather than a discount.

The dementia disregard explained

If you live alone and have an illness like dementia or another illness which results in severe mental impairment, you don’t have to pay council tax. Instead, you qualify for what’s known as a disregard. This means that you don’t have to pay any council tax at all. Bear in mind this information relates to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has a system of rates, not council tax.

Technically, if you qualify for a disregard, your property is exempt from council tax, rather than you being exempt. That’s because you are the only person who could pay council tax (because you live alone) and you don’t have to pay it. The correct term for it is a Class U exemption.

If you live with someone else and qualify the council tax disregard, they may have a lower council tax bill as well. This is because you are ‘disregarded’ for the purposes of council tax, so an adult who lives with you will be treated as if they live on their own. That means they are entitled to the single person discount and can claim 25% off their council tax bill.

How you qualify for the dementia disregard

In order to qualify for the council tax disregard, you have to:

  • Have a severe mental impairment. That could be as a result of dementia, Parkinson’s or another illness. Having a severe mental impairment is not linked to a diagnosis of a specific disease.
  • Have a ‘Council Tax Severe Mental Impairment Doctor’s Certificate’. A GP must sign the certificate to say that, in their view, the severe mental impairment is permanent. If you’ve had an accident that results in a brain injury, you wouldn’t necessarily qualify for a council tax disregard if a GP thought your severe mental impairment was temporary.
  • Be eligible for one of a list of disability benefits. The list is quite long, but it includes Attendance Allowance (at the lower or higher rate), Disability Living Allowance (receiving the higher or middle rate care components) or Personal Independence Payment where you receive the lower or higher rate of the daily living component.

How to apply

You, someone with power of attorney or your carer, should contact your council, in the first instance. They will be able to provide a form to claim the council tax disregard.

It should be relatively straightforward to claim this disregard, discount or exemption. Charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society and Parkinson’s Society have information on council tax and help which you may be eligible for.