Haslemere pensioner angered by granny annexe rebate scheme

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A PENSIONER has described a granny annexe rebate scheme as a ‘stealth tax’ after being landed with a potential bill of more than £900.

Alan English lives with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, in Haslemere. His 88-year-old mother, Helen, also lives with them.

After hearing about a relief scheme, Mr English contacted Chichester District Council to ask if there was any chance of getting a rebate because he was looking after his widowed mother.

He described the area of the house where she lived – two of the ground-floor rooms, plus the old scullery to prepare snacks. A council officer advised him to get his mother’s rooms rated separately and get relief on that part of the house.

“What Chichester council know and don’t tell you is that there may well be no reduction in the council tax payable on the main part of your house,” said Mr English.

“Thus, having been told there would be a rebate all that happened was that the council promptly sent my 88-year-old mother her own council tax bill for an extra £993.08 per year.”

He said the bill had come as a great shock to his mother.

“The council even backdated the bill ten weeks,” he added.

Under current policy, most granny annexes are tax free as long as they are used for elderly family members.

When the area of the house ceases to be used for a relative the full council tax becomes payable again.

At the moment Mr English’ mother receives a full rebate for newly assessed Band A rooms.

His concern, however, is what would happen if his mother moved out of the rooms

“Just imagine if my mother was taken ill and we moved her to the bedroom next to ours so we could nurse her at night,” he said.

“Then, she would no longer be in this mythical annexe and I would have to straight away start paying an extra £933 per year for the privilege of looking after my mother.

“Now, that is some very strange granny annexe tax relief.”

Mr English disputes the classification of the rooms as 
self-contained dwellings. He has written to Cllr Heather Caird, MP Andrew Tyrie and MP Eric Pickles about his situation.

A spokesperson for Chichester District Council says: “Where an annex exists which is self-contained it may be valued for council tax purposes. Decisions relating to council tax banding are taken by the valuation office, not the council.

“There is currently a full exemption from council tax, which is given where an annexe is occupied by a dependant relative who is elderly or disabled. Anyone with a query about council tax liability, discounts or exemptions should contact our council tax section for advice.”