There are a variety of disability-related discounts available from the government and the private sector businesses. The government offers financial support in the form of benefits, tax credits, payments, grants and concessions.
Parking Benefits Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge Scheme is available for disabled people travelling in a car, either as a driver or a passenger. The scheme provides a number of parking benefits if you have acute mobility difficulty. The following eligibility criteria applies for blue badge applications:
- You are registered blind or visually impaired.
- You are in receipt of the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
- You receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- You receive the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- You have been awarded a lump sum benefit from the Armed Forces Compensation scheme (tariffs 1 to 8).
- You have been certified as having a permanent disability which means you can’t walk or find walking very difficult
- You have been awarded a lump sum benefit from the Armed Forces Compensation scheme.
Other criteria which may require further assessment include the following:
- You are applying on behalf of a child with a permanent disability and find it difficult to walk.
- You suffer from severe upper body limb disability.
The scheme allows you to use reserved parking spaces in towns, cities and villages all around the country, including shopping centres and entertainment venues.
Vehicle Tax Exemptions
If you are a disabled driver, there is a chance you may receive an exemption from paying vehicle tax. For you to be eligible to receive car tax exemption, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- If you receive the higher rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance.
- If you get the enhanced rate mobility part of the Personal Independence Payment.
- If you qualify for the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement or the Armed Forces Independence Payment.
Council Tax Discount
Your home may be eligible for a council tax discount if you need extra room, either because of your disability, or you care for a family member with a disability. Your local council should be able to help with the advice and eligibility criteria for this discount, but generally if you live in a property bigger than you would need were it not for the disability, you may qualify. You will need to prove the following:
- Your need for an extra room for the disabled person, which could be a bathroom, kitchen or any other room.
- Or, you require extra space in your home for the use of a wheelchair e.g. knocking down walls to create more space (thereby losing a room).
The property in question must also be the main residence of the disabled person, whether it’s an adult or a child. The discount is usually in the form of property rebanding i.e. you will pay council tax equivalent to a property one band below yours. At their discretion, the local authority may apply other discounts if you are eligible.
VAT Exemptions on equipment purchases
If you are disabled, there are certain purchases of goods and services on which you should be charged no VAT. When buying equipment which is designed for disabled people or has been specially adapted, these should be zero rated for VAT. Below are some of the products and services which qualify for this exemption:
- Adjustable beds.
- Stair lifts.
- Alarm systems.
- Specially adapted motor vehicles.
- Construction work including ramps, door widening, bathroom fitting or installation of lifts or toilets.
- Repair and servicing of equipment.
Leisure attractions disability discounts
Leisure attractions all across the UK offer special discounts for disabled people. These are often applied not just to the disabled adult or child, but their carer as well. Proof may be required to receive the discount, this could be a letter from the DLA or your blue badge if you are a blue badge holder.
Not all attractions will advertise their discounts so if you are planning a visit always ask if there are discounted ticket prices for the disabled and their carer. Examples of places which offer discounted tickets for the disabled include the following popular attractions:
- Theme parks – All Merlin Entertainment attractions including Alton Towers.
- Cinemas and Theatres offer concessionary ticket prices – The Cinema Exhibitors Association (CEA) offer a CEA Card Scheme which offers free tickets to carers accompanying a disabled person to the cinema.
- London Zoo and other zoos across the UK.
- Local or regional events.
- National Trust – a carer is allowed free entry if accompanying a disabled member.
The are many other events and leisure activities which offer discounts to disabled people and always ask before making a booking, you can save yourself some money.
Local Authorities Library Concessions
Using your local library is largely free of charge, unless you incur charges or would like to reserve or rent DVDs or other media items. The discounts available will vary across the different local authorities and may include:
- Free or reduced charges and fees.
- Free or reduced fees for audio and visual materials.
- Reduced fees for book reservations.
- Reduced fees for overdue and late returns.
Some local authorities offer a free home delivery service for housebound or disabled people unable to visit the library. Visit your local library and ask the staff about any discounts available.
Getting around if you are disabled and don’t drive need not be a hassle. Whether you are travelling short distances within your local area or long distance across the country, you can receive travel discounts. The following discounts are available for different modes of transport:
- National Express Disabled Coachcard – save ⅓ off coach travel with the coachcard and travel across the UK at any time (peak or off peak). Currently, the Coachcard costs £10 and is valid for one year.
- Disabled persons bus pass – your local authority will assist you in applying for a disabled persons bus pass. You are eligible to apply for a bus pass if you are:
- Severely visually impaired.
- Profoundly deaf.
- Cannot speak or your speech is severely impaired.
- Have a learning disability.
- Permanently unable to walk.
- In possession of a Blue Badge.
- Unable to drive due to a medical condition.
Each local authority may have different eligibility criteria so contact them for advice and application process. If you are unable to travel unaccompanied and need a companion for your bus travel, you can apply for a companion bus pass too.
- Disabled persons railcard – the railcard offers ⅓ off rail fares for a disabled person and a companion, making travel by train that much cheaper, and enjoyable too. National Rail also offers other concessionary discounts for the visually impaired, wheelchair users travelling with a companion, and adults accompanying disabled children. If you enjoy travelling by rail, then the railcard offers an opportunity to save on travel costs.
There are countless other discounts available from different service providers. As mentioned earlier, these may not necessarily be advertised and you are encouraged to ask if the company you are dealing with offers any discounts. Your local authority is also a great source of information and advice as far as disability discounts are concerned. Whether you are buying new equipment, thinking of adapting your home or looking to study and gain new qualifications, there are discounts available to help and support you along the way.