The Accidental Landlord – Disability, are there any benefits?Make Text Bigger
Let me answer this question directly, no. I am sure that many disabled and people suffering from a debilitating illness would trade every possession they had for wholeness and good health. I am no different.
However, we play the hand we are given and one tries to make the best of it. So, there are some financial benefits to ease disabled life that people should be aware of and they should take action as soon as they can. For those that invest in property, disability has some advantages. One only has to think how one’s business is affected, be it adaptations of homes you own or manage to employing the disabled.
The first thing a newly disabled person needs to do is report the disability to the social services, this merely entails a phone call to them. They then have the duty to assess you and your needs. There are whole rafts of legislation that apply, I will not bore you with detailing them but the social services are governed by them.
Assuming you need their help, a report is done on you and your circumstances and aids, equipment and other help will start to happen around you. Some are automatic, some subject to financial means assessment. There is a discrimination that happens when this is done. Those that have nothing are likely to get all the help that is going and those with money or other resources above a certain level are likely to get nothing. Nonetheless I would say that everyone should register their disablement with social services as legislation could change and financial limits moved.
Should a wheelchair be necessary in one’s life there are council tax reductions to be had. Landlords should be aware that accommodating tenants with wheelchair and other disabled needs, grants may be available in the form of Disabled Facility Grants. Landlords should also know about VAT Notice 701 which deals with VAT and disabled people. Construction of toileting and bathing facilities, ramps, doorways and passages among many others can be VAT exempt. Many builders or other salesmen when confronted with this concept try and tell you that you should claim the VAT back from the HMRC but that is not correct. One merely does not charge it in the first place, so the invoice should reflect that. The builder or supplier has to ensure that the recipient is entitled to this benefit and a written declaration normally suffices.
Whilst on VAT, I am certain that many people reading this will have someone in their lives- even if it is an elderly parent- that requires wheelchairs. If this is the case Vat notice 701 / 59 should be of great interest to you.
“Section 2.6: Can a family member purchase the adapted vehicle? Yes, provided that it is purchased for the personal use of the disabled wheelchair user.”
One needs to read the notice carefully but essentially the adaptation needed may be a wheelchair hoist, aids eg handles to ease the person getting into the car, adaptations to the steering or pedals. I have a left foot accelerator fitted to an automatic car. The point about this section is that one does not have to be registered as disabled merely be a wheelchair user. One can phone your local council and have a wheelchair assessment done, without going through a process of being assessed as disabled. Once bought as an exempt vehicle, the servicing and parts are also VAT free. I am happy to advise and talk you through it.
I spoke to one severely disabled lady once who was of the opinion that her life was filled with more happiness because of her disability and on balance she felt, for her, that she would rather have been disabled than not. I disagreed with her, but I know why she is saying it. It is because of the natural attitude of goodwill people have towards disabled people. It is the, ‘there but for the grace of god go I attitude.’
If you want to read more I have set out a free website where my experiences have been detailed. http://www.mentorexperiences.co.uk/
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