§ Mr. Nigel Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that community care homes, which are occupied exclusively by severely mentally impaired adults, qualify for 100 per cent. rebate under the Rating (Disabled Persons) Act 1978, after 1 April 1993; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what steps he is taking to exercise his powers under section 13 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to make regulations reducing the council tax payable in respect of persons resident in registered charitable residential care or nursing homes; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Robin Squire
The Rating (Disabled Persons) Act ceased to apply to domestic accommodation when domestic rates were abolished, and is of no relevance to the council tax.
There are no special council tax provisions for occupied dwellings owned by charities. It is right that charities should continue to receive relief from non-domestic rates, because these are a tax on the premises which a charity needs to conduct its own business. But the council tax is a tax paid by residents, whether directly or through their landlord. There is no reason why some residents should be specially treated simply because their landlord is a charity. Instead we focus help by reference to individuals' needs through the discount and benefit systems.
Registered care and nursing homes will benefit from a number of council tax reliefs. Care and nursing home patients, like severly mentally impaired people, are not counted towards the personal element of the tax. Many registered care and nursing homes will therefore get a 50 per cent. discount. Most will probably have their bill reduced by one valuation band in respect of facilities for disabled residents, and very many are likely to qualify for substantial amounts of transitional relief. Care homes, like other large dwellings, will also benefit from banding arrangements which mean that the bill for the most expensive property in an area is limited to three times that for the cheapest.