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What’s Going On with Independent Living?

Our inbox at Independent Living is a pretty good barometer of what is on people’s minds, when it comes to mobility, daily living and generally managing things as independently as possible.

One thing we get asked a lot is how to make sure that you are selecting the right piece of equipment – particularly important when investing in a big ticket item, such as a profiling bed, rise and recline chair or mobility scooter.

Now that many purchases are made online, and most Disabled Living Centres are a distant memory, “try before you buy” is increasingly difficult. But what you can do is compare products across a range of different suppliers; find out what special features each can offer, and consider whether they are useful for you. And measure! Don’t assume that the bath lift you are considering will actually fit your bath… make sure it does. Independent Living has guidance on how to measure adaptive equipment, developed by Brunel University.

VAT exemption is another regular topic. Theoretically, any time a disabled person buys an adapted product or mobility aid for themselves, the VAT should be removed from the price. In practice, people don’t always realise they are entitled, and therefore don’t ask – and much less excusably, there are retailers who either don’t know, or don’t share the information. Even less is known about the concession which enables people aged over 60 to pay a lower rate of VAT (5% instead of 20%) when they have mobility aids installed.

 Over the years, we’ve been able to help lots of people who are fighting the system, from unfair parking fines and rejected Blue Badge applications, to benefit decisions and Motability vehicle issues.

 Occasionally, a site visitor is looking for something so niche that we just can’t help them find the right product to meet their needs. But in those rare cases, we do know exactly where to send them for a tailor-made answer to their problem – Remap!

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Frances Leckie

Editor, Independent Living

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