Older people in care home handed council tax bills

A group of older people living in a care home have each been
handed council tax bills of more than £1,200 because they now
have cookers and kitchen sinks in their rooms.

Kathleen Chambers House in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, was
reassessed by Inland Revenue valuation officers following an
upgrading of facilities, which included new cookers, kitchen sinks
and en-suite bathrooms.

The valuation office agency (VOA) decided the rooms were now
individual dwellings within the relevant regulations, and thus
attracted council tax of £1,266 per person, backdated to
January 2000.

The home, which is run by the Royal National Institute for the
Blind, accommodates 37 residents mostly in their 80s and 90s. They
were previously exempt from council tax because they lived in a
care home.

Sedgemoor council, which collects the tax claimed it was left
with no choice but to act on the VOA’s decision. “Our hands
are tied,” said the council’s head of revenues Ruth

But the residents and the RNIB have criticised the decision on
the grounds it penalises attempts to comply with national minimum
standards for care homes. Issued by the department of health and
due to come into force next April, the standards aim to improve
residents’ private accommodation and enable independent

Jon Barrick, RNIB director of community services, described the
decision as “totally unjust and deplorable”, adding: “It seems
completely absurd that residential care homes are not exempt from

Pearson said the council was looking at possible exemptions,
discounts, allowances and benefits that might be employed to
alleviate the residents’ problems, and hoped to resolve
matters with the RNIB.

She added: “We’ve spoken with the Local Government
Association on this matter. They are going to have a meeting with
the VOA, but we haven’t heard anything yet.”

The LGA’s policy lead on local taxation, David Maddison,
said the VOA and department of transport, local government and the
regions were considering the issues around Kathleen Chambers House,
and other similar organisations, but no decision had been





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