Just been refused a council tax reduction

I am in a quandary at the moment because I have just found out that my GP does not regard having absence seizures and all the related problems such as time lapses and memory problems as a severe mental impairment.

Is there an actual definition?

I saw on a television program (Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert) that a council tax reduction had been given to a man who had MS and epilepsy just as I have. His condition was deemed a severe mental impairment and allowed him to receive a council tax reduction.
I therefore applied for a reduction. Hubby and I can’t work - I can’t so hubby can’t, it makes finances very tight and a reduction in the biggest bill of the year would be very helpful.

My GP has told the council that I am NOT severely mentally impaired which doesn’t follow what I saw on the TV program. The man interviewed seemed in perfect mental health in his interview. I am exactly the same and seem perfectly OK much of the time but with regular mental absences.

Does the GP simply not understand absence seizures or might it be that her GP speaks to me when I’m not having them.

I don’t think any doctor has ever witnessed me have a seizure except one who is one of the GP’s at my clinic. He only witnessed it because hubby took me in quickly once when I had a very strange episode when we were out shopping.

We are going to appeal the decision as a matter of principle and need to ask if or what we missing.

Are absence seizures and time lapses a severe mental impairment or not!

Can you help please or offer an opinion?

get advice from CAB who know what can be claimed for.

it sounds a very arbitrary way that they dealt with your claim.

good luck

carole x

Carol, I don’t think the local CAB will help. I know them and have used them before and they are worse than hopeless. My local just doesn’t have the right people.

Because the definition is so vague and we just can’t get to it no matter where we look, we are going to write to our MP and ask him to refer it to the HOC to come up with a definitive.

I think a question to ask him is - having described my condition am I mentally impaired or not? What is the governments definition?

Given that other people with exactly the same symptoms ARE, why is there a difference? There must be a statutory definition written somewhere.

I don’t know how it works but we get a reduction because of our disabled daughter.

I didn’t think it needed to be a mental impairment but not sure what the criteria is(sorry not much use i know!).I think it might vary from council to council? basically we get put down a band so if the house is band D we get charged the band C price i think.

Ahh the wife tells me its because Kay is a full time 24/7 wheelchair user and apparently they do turn up every so often to make sure she hasn’t had a miracle cure from cerabral Palsy and is still entitled to it.


There are two separate things being discussed here. The discount for a person who is Severely Mentally Impaired, and the discount for the disabled.

What Florence has applied for is a discount from Council Tax on the grounds of being ‘Severely Mentally Impaired’. This is where a person is effectively disregarded from living at a property in a similar way that a person who is a full time student is disregarded from the Council Tax. If a person is disregarded from the Council Tax, it is as if they do not live there. So if Florence and her husband are the only two people living in the property and she were classed as Severely Mentally Impaired, it would be as if her husband were the only resident in the property, therefore a 25% discount would be applied to the Council Tax. This is equivalent to the single person discount (ie where a person lives alone in a property).

There is a definition within the Local Government Finance Act 1992 of what it means to be Severely Mentally Impaired: ‘a person is severely mentally impaired if he has a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused) which appears to be permanent.’

Florences GP does not consider her condition to fit this definition. Note the wording ‘severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused)’. I should think that Florence’s GP does not class ‘absence seizures’, epilepsy and memory problems as severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning. Obviously we cannot actually see which discount the man on the program Florence saw qualified for, or why. Sometimes a TV program is made and the researchers / presenters do not understand the rules about Council Tax, so explain things badly.

The other way in which Ollie and myself for example get a ‘Disabled Discount’ is because a person within the family is a full time wheelchair user and so we receive a discount down to the next band applicable to our property. It’s a completely different type of discount.

Florence, the definition is written into the Local Government Finance Act. It’s not the simplest thing to read, but I’ve read it before and understand how to find the information I need. If you were to contact your local council and ask for an explanation of the discount awarded to the Severely Mentally Impaired, I’m pretty sure they’d explain it in much the way I have.



sue you are so knowledgeable.

I get this wheelchair discount. i dont use my wheelchair everyday in the house, but i have to have the space to use it i.e. door frames, and turning points. I have to stay in a bigger house to use it. Mind you i am going to loose it now as i need to move as the house and its grounds have made me into a prisoner as i am exhausted as its all too much for me to keep going and expensive. i am moving into a park home which is only a band A, and i will get my discount anyway for being on my own. I am not sure how i will use my wheelchair in there, but because the overall area is a lot smaller for me i am hoping i wont need too so much. my other new expense issue is ground rent, but i will have to pay it. because i will come out with money i think i will pay that annually.

I didnt know about the discount for mental impaired. I have Transient epileptic amnesia and i can have an episode where i have no idea what i am doing. its very scary but i wouldnt say i was mentally impaired only temporarily absent lol. thanks for all you help you are a great person to have on our team. x

The DLS maybe able to give you some advice. Good luck.

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Thank you everybody above, that is really helpful. I have already sent a message to Disability Law. I sent it yesterday and haven’t had a reply yet. I might be able to find a link to Martin Lewsi’s program if it’s on utube. It won’t be on I player now but ai will write to ‘Martin Lewis’ if I can’t find it. People do need to know about this discount and if the man in the program got the discount then so should Crazy Chick. That transient amnesia is exactly what I have but its never been called that.

Hi (thank you for the compliment!)

If you are able to use your wheelchair indoors in your park home, you can still get a discount, even if you are in band A. If your property is in band A and you qualify for the disabled discount, instead of dropping to the next band down, your Council Tax is reduced by one sixth.

I know about this stuff because of my job when I worked (Local Government Benefits and Revenues). Even though I’ve not worked for (gulp) 12 years, some things haven’t changed. Council Tax is one of the things that’s essentially not altered.

I’m just happy when there’s something useful for other people.


My house is so small I can’t use it indoors. I do need to use it and I wish I could but it’s just not possible.

I get about by either very carefully using a frame or hubby helps me.

theres no council tax discount for that is there? You’ve got to physically open up the wheelchair and sit in it.

Thank you Sue!!
I’ve just submitted an application! I was always under the impression you only got the relief if the house had been “substantially altered to meet the needs of the disable person”

I went on my council website for clarification and you are right!

Really shouldn’t have doubted you, should I?

Many thanks,


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I was about to apologise for confusing the thread by bringing this up, but if its helped someone else that’s great,so i wont!


hi hun do you have TEA then…jeez welcome to the TEA club or not. It is one of the scariest things i have ever experienced in my life and it scared my husband too. I take a drug called Levetiracetam every night. it wards off attacks cross fingers…I still get the odd small one but nothing major now. Its amazing drug.

I do get discount though because of my wheelchair. do you have an electric wheelchair? I managed to buy a small one off betterlife which fits well in my house and i hope it will be ok in my park home too.

mine is similar to this one, but not quite the same. it folds easy for the car too so i can go out and be my own boss lol.

I think you should retry and see if you can get the discount. it doesnt seem right you cant. xx

Hi brilliant thank you. the sitting room is not a problem its really big its the hallway and door to kitchen we are going to measure it up when i go back. a discount will help as i have added ground rent which is extra money. I cant find a bungalow where i live the one i was buying last time my buyers buyers pulled out at the last minute. i have braved the process again as i cant live here anymore its all too much for me. i am on the council waiting list for significant medical need, but the only sheltered that has come up has been first floor which is so no good to me, as i am phobic in lifts.

thank you for your help. xxx

It is the last part of Sue’s explanation why we also get a Disabled Discount.

"The other way in which Ollie and myself for example get a ‘Disabled Discount’ is because a person within the family is a full time wheelchair user and so we receive a discount down to the next band applicable to our property. It’s a completely different type of discount."

100% correct.

My local council did not even come out to inspect the house, all they wanted was a letter confirming my MS and asked if I was a wheel chair user, it was all done over the phone.

If I recall, they did ask if we had a downstairs toilet WITH a sink, which we do.

Not sure why this would make a difference though ?

After ringing them up we soon dropped a band, not a huge saving but it’s something !

Yes and I’ve had a few scary episodes. But I’m diagnosed with complex partial seizures not transient amnesia.

the two scariest attacks were back when I was at work and driving. Just before I lost my licence. I lost my licence because of these attacks.

I was coming home from work one Friday and on the M25. I took the left lane down the the roundabout to turn right on to the A 127 and the next thing I knew I was just coming up to the junction of the M11 - 15 miles and a good 20 minutes further on.

I took the junction and turned around and drove back down the motorway to get back to the A127 junction.


I told the Neurologist the next day.

Then a couple of months later with all sorts of other odd occurrences, I was working up north in Shropshire.

I was driving back down on the M40 when suddenly I realised that I had lost two hours of the journey and had no memory of the last two hours on the motorway.

I told the neuro about that one and she took my licence immediately diagnosing me with complex partial seizures.

Scary or what! Flipping heck, you can’t describe it.

I’ve just read our Local Goveenment criteria on their website and it would appear that having a downstairs loo extension specifically built for me and being a wheelchair user, may make us eligible too !! I shall be ringing tomorrow.

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Good luck, I you get somewhere.

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wow driving with one is scary. have you had any since?

Mine is weird i loose time its like suddenly becoming aware but cant remember a thing. the big 2 i had i was talking to my husband and repeating everything over and over like ground hog day. they thought it was global amnesia but i had too many small ones and a specialist said it was TEA which is very similar. I wonder if it comes with MS as i know a few people who have similar. its not being able to make new memories. for that split second or minute the brain cant keep a snap shot of it. it goes.

i dont drive i really wouldnt feel safe. i wasnt allowed too anyway until 12 months after the very last big one, but must admit since the medication i have rarely had one, or its very small. stess will trigger it.

I hope you get your council tax reduction, you should. xx