Advice to Carers on Technology Purchase

The sheer breadth of technology and the fact that many technologies have multiple uses means that, especially for environmental monitoring, it is important to make a holistic assessment. Currently this complexity defeats most automated systems designed to help users and carers to choose. This in turn means that if at all possible, expert advice should be sought especially if a person has complex needs.

Whether a carer – or their loved one – has to pay for technology is complex. It can depend very much on the nature of the technology concerned, whether they have a personal budget with unspent funds, and whether their financial position is above or below a means-tested threshold

Before making any purchase commitments, carers – or those they care for – should:

  • For social care-related technologies (for example telecare), contact your local council to ask what services they provide, whether they can provide them for you/the person you care for, and whether any help is available with the cost
  • For health related technologies, the first point of call should be your GP surgery or local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – to find your local CCG click here; all health services, if available on the NHS and appropriate for the individual, should be free at the point of care.

If a carer or user has to pay for the technology or service, most UK suppliers should be able to zero rate purchases for VAT if the user or carer meets at least one of the following requirements:

  • A physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect upon your ability to carry out everyday activities.
  • A condition that the medical profession treats as a long-term illness, such as diabetes or heart disease.
  • Being terminally ill.

Zero rating should reduce the cost by approximately 16.7%. HMRC are of course the ultimate advisors on VAT-related issues and should be consulted if in doubt.

Note that for learning disability there is better access to funding for life-long support from school age, including when the same people grow older.

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