How to finance your stairlift
27th November 2015
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
A large part of the preparation for having a stairlift solution installed is to work out how to finance it. As a major personal investment that is specially manufactured and installed by professionals, finding additional funds for a stairlift can make the purchase easier.
Knowing what financial options are available can make a huge difference to how soon the stairlift is installed and what features it has; here, we present a guide to some of the financial help that is available.
Before we get into funding, choosing a reconditioned stairlift is a great option for those who think that a new stairlift would exceed their budget. The chairs of these stairlifts may be pre-loved, but they come with brand new track and are fully refurbished to the same high standards of quality and safety that are expected from all new stairlifts. Because they are pre-owned, reconditioned stairlifts can be a significantly cheaper option.
Although this is not a way to raise funds for a stairlift, it could certainly make it easier to afford a stairlift.
Find out more about reconditioned stairlifts from Handicare:
Disabled Facilities Grant
The Disabled Facilities Grant is an essential source of funding for those who need to make adaptations to their homes, with up to £30,000 available as a grant for home improvement in England. The amount that each individual gets is based on household income and household savings that are above £6,000, but many people will find that they are eligible for this funding. Application forms are available from local councils, who will need at least two written estimates for the work. It is also possible to appeal a decision about your Disabled Facilities Grant if you are unhappy with the result.
This free government grant is designed for more than stairlift funding, with eligible adaptations including the widening of doors and the installation of ramps, as well as walk in baths and showers. Landlords can even apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant on behalf of their tenants, so it really is a valuable source of funding for anyone with mobility difficulties.
If you are purchasing a stairlift for your own personal use you may be eligible for relief from any Value Added Tax (VAT). Eligibility for 0 per cent VAT depends on whether you meet certain criteria. To be eligible the person must be ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and the stairlift must be for personal or domestic use. According to HMRC, ‘chronically sick or disabled’ means:
- physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect upon his/her ability to carry out everyday activities
- condition which the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness, such as diabetes
If you’re purchasing a stairlift on behalf of a ‘chronically sick or disabled’ person, your supply is treated as being made to that ‘chronically sick or disabled’ person, so this won’t stop you being able to claim VAT relief.
The stairlift provider will ask you to complete a "User VAT declaration" at the point of sale to confirm eligibility. It will need to contain sufficient information to demonstrate that a customer fulfils all the criteria for eligibility. It is very important to do this at the point of sale and not after as the zero rating works by the supplier not charging VAT, rather than working on a refund basis. Any errors will be sorted out by the supplier, not HMRC.
If you or the person you are acting for is over 60, you can still qualify for a reduced rate of VAT (5%) for stairlifts and some other mobility aids that are installed for use in a private home.
The ACT Foundation
The ACT Foundation was established in 1994 and provides grants that can enhance the quality of life for those with physical and/or mental disabilities, particularly those living in poverty. A maximum grant of £2,500 can be awarded towards home improvement where a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) has already been awarded and there is a shortfall. They can also consider funds towards specialist equipment such as riser recliner chairs, adjustable beds, wheelchairs and technology to assist independent living, and help towards the cost of short-term respite breaks at registered respite centres.
The foundation aims to make a decision on 95 per cent of applications within two months and all applications within three months. Applicants must live in the UK.
Applications need to be done via post. Upon receiving the application, the ACT Foundation will send an acknowledgment letter with feedback if the application is in an unacceptable form. The application form can be downloaded here from the ACT Foundation's website.
Independence at Home
This charity can provide essential help when trying to find that final £2,000 that will make sure your all-important stairlift installation project goes ahead. Independence at Home aims to help those with disabilities and long-term illnesses improve their independence and quality of life at home, providing funding at the last stage of fundraising.
Independence at Home offer funds that can make up that £2,000 shortfall, but only to those who are referred to them by a health or social care worker, such as an occupational therapist, specialist nurse, physiotherapist or social worker. This referrer must first write a letter to Independence at Home that describes the circumstances and explains what exactly the funds would be put towards. Independence at Home will then send an application form and start the funding process.
While this option isn’t available for men, it could be a hugely useful resource and funding option for women in ill health in the UK. As a registered UK charity and a not-for-profit organisation, the Margaret’s Fund helps with assistance in the form of disability grants for stairlifts, medical equipment and other forms of mobility assistance.
It is worth bearing in mind with this fund that it can only be applied for by a Caring Professional and not individuals, but should you suffer from medically proven reduced mobility it could be a way of financing your new stairlift.
Another method of gaining financial assistance for a much needed stair lift in your home is The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. While this financial aid is only available for those who have served in the armed forces, it could be a great help if it is applicable to you. SSAFA not only provides financial assistance to anyone of any age who has served in the armed forces, but they also provide invaluable practical and emotional support.
Support for farmers or farm workers and their dependants is available from the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I). The welfare charity can provide grants for a wide variety of requirements to people of all ages, whether working or not, where there is financial need. For example, they are able to purchase specialist equipment such as stairlifts, mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs for those with disabilities. For more information and to speak in confidence to a member of the welfare team, call the Freephone helpline 0808 281 9490.
Foundations is the national body for home improvement agencies and handyperson services. Whilst not providing funds directly, home improvement agencies in England deliver around 50% of the total number of DFG-funded adaptations. They project-manage the whole process, from drawing up plans, getting estimates and liaising with others involved in the work (such as council grants officers and occupational therapists) through to completion.
This charity is an excellent resource for those who are hoping to get some financial help but are not sure which charities to ask for this help from. The Turn2us website is a resource for those looking to give free grants as well as those searching for them, making it a handy tool for individuals, intermediaries and charities alike. Using the website or speaking to one of the Turn2us advisors can help those trying to finance a stairlift find all the benefits and grants for stairlifts that they are eligible for.
Local fundraising is certainly one of the most traditional ways of financing essential work that can help those with a disability. The Institute of Fundraising provides plenty of helpful tips on fundraising and, although their guidance videos are aimed at those who want to turn fundraising into a career, the ideas contained within them are useful for local fundraising too.
Asking members of your local community to part with their money is quite likely to be a sensitive issue, so other funding methods may be more suitable. Some classic ideas include a cake sale, sponsored challenge or quiz night.
Image credit: Images_of_Money, comedy_nose (flickr.com)