Cheshire Centre for Independent Living is a charitable, not-for-profit organisation. We empower disabled people to have independence, choice and control over their lives and remove the barriers that exist within society. Examples of this might be: communication, physical access to buildings or transport, lack of same opportunities as non-disabled people, and/or other peoples attitudes.
The charity supports all individuals across all impairment groups, including: autism, learning difficulties, long term health conditions, mental ill health, physical impairments, sensory impairments or multiple impairments. We deliver a range of services that enable disabled people to have inclusive family lives; live independently within their community; access work and volunteering opportunities; and support their wellbeing. In addition, we try to use disabled people's experience to influence positive change locally, regionally and nationally.
In relation to assisting disabled people and their families to make choices and access the services and support they may require to live independently in the community with appropriate support; we provide independent and impartial information and advice to disabled people around operating and managing the legal requirements/responsibilities of a Personal Budget or Personal Health Budget (Personal Health Budgets and Personal Budgets are a way in which a person can receive their assessed health and care from the NHS or Social Care. Many people choose to take this as a Direct Payment, which is a cash payment paid to a disabled person by the NHS/Social Care. It can enable individuals to have greater choice, control and flexibility over the health and care that they need).
As a charity operating solely within the Health and Social Care field, we believe that we are exempt from VAT, as a provider of welfare services. In 2012, we asked HMRC to confirm this position specifically for our payroll service, which we offer to disabled people who are recipients of a Personal Health Budgets and Personal Budget and employ personal assistants/carers/support workers to meet their health and care needs. This service supports disabled individuals to manage the legal responsibilities with regards to tax and national insurance liabilities, real-time submissions and pensions. Unfortunately, HMRC did not agree, and felt that the service in question should be standard rated for VAT.
We believe (and other organisations stood behind our case) that it falls within the welfare exemption as it is a necessary cost to ensure the disabled individual can have as much independence as possible, and following a push from central Government on the roll out of Personal Health Budgets, more and more disabled people are having to become employers to receive health and care support; therefore payroll support is integral to this.
After all, if a disabled person is purchasing a car specifically designed for disabled people, there is no VAT liability. HMRC do not state that the individual needs to pay VAT on the wheels because they are the same wheels as you would have on a car purchased by a non-disabled person.
Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) decided to challenge the original VAT decision by HMRC, in 2012, on behalf of our disabled members who direct their own care (by employing their own care staff, through a Direct Payment as part of their Personal Budget or Personal Health Budget). When mediation was rejected by HMRC, there was no alternative other than to proceed to tribunal.
In our view, the payroll service is vital to disabled people, as without the support from us, the disabled person would be unable to obtain the same level of service from their personal assistant(s). The payroll service is only one element of the wider provision of services provided to individuals, which, taken together, enable disabled people to enjoy a better level of control of their lives and live independently in the community, than they would otherwise have been able to.
We offer a coordinated approach to helping disabled individuals with all tasks associated with employing care staff in a legal and safe manner; recruitment interviewing staff, paying national minimum wage, ensuring tax/NI liabilities are paid, acting legally as an employer. If none of these things are carried out correctly, it can lead to increased stress for the individual, on top of any management strategies they already have in place for living with an impairment that affects them on a day-to-day basis.
Please can you help us fight this cause, by helping our charity to raise additional funds to cover the growing legal costs to conclude this matter?