MoneySavingExpert’s ‘Severely Mentally Impaired’ Council Tax Discount Guide

Could you or someone you know be eligible for the Severely Mentally Impaired Council Tax discount? MoneySavingExpert have been campaigning since 2016 to raise awareness of this and in 2017 published a major report which found that up to 100,000 people could be missing out on this discount.

By law, to qualify, someone must be medically certified as being ‘severely mentally impaired’ – defined as having  “a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused) which appears to be permanent”. 

This is a medical diagnosis in itself, but the underlying cause could be a condition such as dementia (including Alzheimer’s), severe learning difficulties, or something else. It’s important to note that having an underlying condition does not automatically mean a person is ‘severely mentally impaired’ (SMI). 

If someone is diagnosed as SMI, they can be ‘disregarded for council tax purposes’ in England, Scotland and Wales – in a similar way that students are, for example. Who is eligible is explained in full below.

If you or someone you live with is diagnosed as SMI, this means you can claim:

A 100% discount – if you’re diagnosed as SMI and live alone, you shouldn’t be paying any council tax at all.

A 25% discount – if you live with someone who’s SMI and no other adults, or only adults who have also been disregarded for council tax purposes, in effect you get a single person’s discount. But when claiming, specify you require a discount because you are living with someone who is severely mentally impaired. 

No discount applies if you are diagnosed as SMI but you live with two or more adults who are eligible to pay council tax. As there are two or more full council-tax paying adults, they are not eligible for the single person’s council tax discount.

To qualify for the reduction, not only does the person have to be medically certified as being SMI, but they also must be eligible for – but not necessarily actually receiving – at least one of a number of benefits (see full list), such as disability living allowance.


For further details, visit MoneySavingExpert SMI Council Tax Discounts Guide where you’ll find information on who is eligible and how to claim.

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