Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Changes to ISAs – Budget 2014

As revealed last week in the Budget, from 1 July 2014 ISAs will have a new annual limit of £15,000 as opposed to £5,760 which is the current limit to cash ISAs and £11,520 for stocks and shares ISAs. The NISAs (New Individual Savings Accounts) will allow for greater saving without the need to pay tax and also reduce confusion between the different limits.

Money can be transferred from previous ISAs into the NISA to enable individuals to benefit from the increased limit.

Junior ISAs and Child Trust Funds will be increased to allow individuals to invest £4,000 a year, up from £3,720.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Council Tax Reductions (Council Tax Support)

Council Tax Reductions have taken over from the Council Tax benefit which were abolished in April 2013. These reductions are now run by each local council so qualifying conditions and exemptions will be different in each area and may not be the same as the previous benefit.

To be eligible you must either be on a low income or claiming benefits. You can either own the property or rent it.

The support you may receive will depend on factors such as:

·         Where you live
·         Your circumstances (e.g. income and number of children)
·         Your total household income
·         If your children live with you
·         If other adults live with you

A Discretionary Discount Scheme could be run by your local council to help with individuals in severe financial hardship but there is typically very limited funding in this area.

Individuals living alone will automatically receive a 25% discount in council tax as the rates are calculated under the assumption that 2 adults live in the property. Various types of individuals don’t qualify as adults, please follow the link to find out who may be able to receive this deduction.

Properties which are lived in solely by students are exempt from council tax.

Empty or unfurnished homes and properties that aren’t your main residence may also qualify for a discount.

Reduction in Council Tax for Disabled Persons

Reductions are available to individuals who are disabled or live with a person with a disability who require extra room in the property to meet their needs arising from a disability. This could also mean an extra bathroom or kitchen, or just extra space.

These discounts are designed to ensure that disabled people don’t pay more tax on account of space needed because of a disability.

Typically the discount will involve moving to the next cheapest council tax band. I.E. an individual living in a Band C property with a disability will have to pay at the Band B rate instead.

People who are severely mentally impaired and some live-in carers are exempt when working out council tax.

Visit your local Council’s website for more information and details on how to apply.

Hinckley & Bosworth District Council

01455 255 623

Friday, 14 March 2014

Motability Rules

Disabled individuals who receive one of the following benefits at the specific rates may be able to exchange their mobility allowance to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair.

You may be eligible if you receive one of:

·         The Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance (£55.25 a week)
·         The Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of the Personal Independence Payment (£55.25 a week)
·         Armed Forces Independence Payment (£55.25)
·         War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (£61.75)

The Attendance Allowance cannot be used to lease a car through Motability.

Of the 2000 types of car available, 450 cost no more than your weekly allowance, and so will therefore not cost any more money. For the more expensive cars, an advanced payment will be needed.

This scheme allows for the individual to receive various benefits instead of receiving mobility allowance:

·         A brand new car or vehicle every 3 years.
·         Included servicing and maintenance
·         Insurance
·         Full breakdown assistance from RAC
·         Annual Car Tax organised for you
·         Many adaptions at no extra cost
·         Window and windscreen repair
·         60000 mileage allowance over the 3 years.

There is no upper age limit. The individual must have at least 12 months award length remaining.
Parents or guardians can order a car on behalf of a child aged 3 or over who is receiving the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance.

As part of the lease, 2 named drivers can be included. Neither have to be the individual who receives the benefit and they don’t even have to be able to drive. Although, nominated drivers should live within 5 miles of the disabled customers address. Only 1 nominated driver under the age of 21 is permitted.

A 3rd named driver can be added at an additional cost.

Use the link below to find out more information and to also request the exchange to occur.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people aged 65 or over who have a physical and/or mental disability. To be eligible, the disability needs to be severe enough that you require help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety.

There are 2 weekly rates which are dependent on the level of help you need:

·         £53 a week – Frequent help or constant supervision during the day, or        supervision at night.

·         £79.15 a week – Help or supervision throughout both day and night, or you’re terminally ill.

You may get Attendance Allowance if:
·         You are 65 or over when you make the claim
·         You are not entitled to Disability Living Allowance
·         You are not entitled to Personal Independence Payment
·         You have needed help or care for at least 6 months

Special Rules do however, apply if the person will be suffering from a progressive disease, and their death can be reasonably expected within six months.

  • This means there is much less information that the person has to enter on the claim form. Claims made under the special rules are given priority treatment.

  • The claim can be made either by the person who is terminally ill or by someone acting on their behalf. If someone completes the form on their behalf, the terminally ill individual does not have to sign it themselves. They will be notified that a claim for Attendance Allowance has been made but not under the special rules (in case they are not aware of the full nature of their condition).

  • Claim must be made on the Attendance Allowance form.

  • A short medical report about the terminally ill person's condition must be sent in with the claim forms for Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance. This report is called DS1500 and is available from a doctor, specialist or consultant.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Carer's Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit designed to help people who look after another individual who is disabled. It is paid to the individual that does the caring. Two people cannot get Carer’s Allowance at the same time for looking after the same person. To be eligible you need to fulfil the criteria beneath.

1.      The person you are looking after is getting  one of the following benefits

·         Attendance Allowance
·         Constant Attendance Allowance at or above - the normal maximum rate, as an addition to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, or – the basic, full-day rate as an addition to a War Disablement Pension.
·         Armed Forces Independence Payments.
·         Personal Independence Payment at either rate of the Daily Living Component.
·         The care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate. The mobility component is not a qualifying benefit for Carer’s Allowance.

2.       You are aged 16 or over.

3.      You are looking after a disabled person for at least 35 hours a week (can mean cooking meals or helping them with their shopping).

4.      You normally live in Great Britain.

5.      You do not earn more than £100 a week (after expenses, National Insurance Contributions, Income Tax)

6.      You are not in full time education, or on holiday from a course of full time education.

7.      You are not subject to immigration control (Are some exceptions to this).