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7 Discounts Disabled People can get in the UK
As a result of impairment, people living with a disability face costs on average of £570 a month or £6,840 a year. This is because they have higher expenses and need assistive devices such as hearing aids and wheelchairs.
The most common type of impairment in Britain for adults are those associated with difficulty in lifting and mobility. Children have mental conditions like communication and learning difficulties rather than physical impairment.
Although benefits are available, it’s not enough to cover essential items and equipment. Every month, several families are usually left short. The good news is we researched and found discounts for disabled people that will save you money.
Here are 7 discounts disabled people can get in the UK.
1. Reduced Council Tax
Council Tax is a property-based tax. If you’re on a low income or disabled, you can get discounts on your Council Tax. The disabled band reduction scheme aims to ensure that disabled people do not pay more Council Tax because they live in a larger property. If your property is permanently adapted to ease movement due to their condition, you are eligible for a reduction in your Council tax.
The council usually categorises property as permanently adapted when either:
- There is enough floor space to allow the disabled person to use a wheelchair
- There is a second kitchen or bathroom
- There is an extra room that meets the needs of the disabled person other than the kitchen or bathroom.
However, changes such as putting a stairlift, movable equipment or ramp access do not qualify you for a reduction in your Council Tax. The disabled reduction is typically calculated in the form of a band reduction. For example, a band C property is usually charged at the rate of a band B property for the period the reduction is applicable. The reduction usually lasts until the adaptations are all removed or the disabled person is no longer at the address.
Apply for a Council Tax discount
2. Free Prescriptions
If you’ve a continuing disability that prevents you from going out without the help of a carer, then you’re entitled to free prescriptions. Prescriptions are free in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but cost £9.35 in England. To get free prescriptions, you need a valid medical exemption certificate.
To get the certificate, you need to claim form FP92A. This form is available from your doctor, pharmacist or hospital. Once you submit your form, your certificate should arrive by post within two weeks.
With a certificate, you can also apply for a refund on prescriptions purchased before receiving the certificate. To get your refund, request an FP57 refund receipt from your pharmacist. You must apply for a refund within 3 months of purchase.
Some pharmacies do run a minor ailment scheme. This enables you to get certain medications without the need to contact your doctor. You can visit a pharmacy running this scheme and get medication for a range of minor ailments, free of charge, on the NHS. Such minor ailments include:
- Insect bites
Remember, always tick the right box on the back of the prescription, if someone collects the prescription on your behalf.
3. Discounted Travel Schemes
Travelling is much cheaper if you apply for a travel discount for disabled people. If travelling by bus, apply for a disabled person’s bus pass from your local council. It’s free! If you live in London, apply for the Freedom Pass to travel for free across the city via train, bus or tube. The Freedom Pass also allows free bus journeys nationally.
If driving, apply for a Blue Badge. The badge allows you to park at reduced rates even in areas other people cannot park. For example, you can park on double yellow lines as long as your vehicle is not obstructing the highway. In the UK, most car parks allow Blue Badge holders to park for free or at a reduced fee.
The Blue Badge costs £10 in England and £20 in Scotland. But it saves you on expensive street parking for three years. To apply for the Blue Badge, you need to provide:
- Proof of address
- Proof of identity
- Your National Insurance Number
- Contact Details
- A digital photo
The badge lasts for 3 years, and you must reapply before your current one expires. Disabled person railcards also save you on travel costs. In fact, it saves you an average of £115 per year. The railcard also pays for itself within three journeys. For just £20 for a year or £54 for 3 years, you can save a third off your train tickets.
4. VAT Relief on Equipment and Essential Items
If you’re disabled, the government will not charge you VAT on essential items and equipment for your personal use. Also, they will offer VAT relief on extra work or installation for the equipment. This includes:
- Specialist beds
- Emergency alarms
- Low vision aids
- Braille paper
- Motor vehicles
Others are medical appliances to help with severe injuries and building work like installing a lift or ramp.
You also do not pay VAT if you import qualifying goods for domestic or personal use. Such goods include:
- Teaching aids
- Electronic reading machines
- White canes and items used for mobility assistance.
If using a freight service, make sure to write the following on your parcel “Goods for disabled people: relief claimed.” If you bring in the goods yourself, declare them at Customs red channel.
To get the equipment and essential items VAT free, you must have:
- A physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out daily activities
- You’re terminally ill
- Have a chronic condition like diabetes
Currently, the elderly who are not disabled do not qualify for VAT relief on equipment and essential items. To apply, you must confirm that you meet the conditions above. Visit your supplier to get the application form.
5. Discounts on Utility Bills
Several schemes can help you get a reduction in your utility bills. WaterSure is one such scheme. The scheme is available for certain customers with a water meter. It allows them to have their bills capped. To qualify for the scheme, you or someone living with you must have a medical condition that requires significant use of water. Examples of such conditions include:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Weeping skin disease
If you qualify for WaterSure, you will pay no more than the average household bill. But if you have a swimming pool or use a garden sprinkler system, you will not qualify for WaterSure. If you’re eligible for WaterSure, apply through your water company.
Another scheme is Water Home Discount that helps disabled persons struggling to afford or pay energy bills. The scheme gives you a credit of £140 credited between September and March on your energy bills. To qualify, your energy supplier must be part of the scheme. Once you’re eligible, you must stay with your energy supplier until the credit is fully paid to your account. To apply for the discount, speak to your energy supplier. Not everyone qualifies for the discount. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis.
6. Concessionary Library Card
Several UK libraries offer a range of services for people with disability or are housebound. One of these is a concessionary library card. To get your card, you must have a disability which means you also receive state benefits. Alternatively, you’ve a council Sensory Services card or a letter from the Learning Disabilities Team or Day Services Team.
To get your card, take your benefits awards letter to the library. If you qualify, you’ll receive your card. Members of the library can also convert their existing cards to concessionary status. If under 18s, submit a form completed by your optician, doctor or headteacher.
As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy the following benefits, including a free loan on:
- Information DVD
- Books on Mp3, CD and cassette
- Music CDs
You’ll also enjoy reduced charges for:
- Book finding service
- New Release DVD
- DVD box sets
- Six weeks loans instead of three
- Free printing up to 20 double side pages
- No overdue charges for late returns
- Free audiobooks
Besides the benefits above, Blue Badge holders can park on double yellow lines close to the library. Or park at a designated Blue Badge holder’s parking.
The benefits and policies vary between libraries and local authorities. To find out more about concessionary library cards and their benefits, contact your library or local council. If you’re unable to visit your local library, check out if your local council offers free delivery to housebound people.
7. Disability Student Allowance
Those with a disability affecting their studies can apply for the Disability Student Allowance. To qualify, you must be studying full-time or part-time for at least a year. The allowance covers costs incurred as you study with a disability.
As a full-time student, you’re eligible for the following amounts:
- General Allowance – up to £1,954 a year
- Specialist equipment – up to £5,849 for the entire course
- Non-medical helper – up to £23,258 a year
To apply for the Disabled Student Allowance, you need the DSA1 form. Download the form from the GOV.UK site and fill it out. For part-time students, download the same form and fill out a paper application. Alternatively, students can apply online.
If you’re a new student, you must create a student finance account. If you’re a returning student, sign in to your existing account. The application takes 6 weeks to process, and you may have to provide extra evidence. If your circumstances change, you must update your application.