Can’t Pay – Won’t Pay

Care Charges – Scotland’s Hidden Rival to the Poll Tax

A patchwork of different 32 different ways of taxing disabled people who require personal and social care is generating anger and discontent across Scotland and levels of non-payment now rival that of the Poll Tax. Thousands of disabled people all over Scotland are refusing to pay a tax of up to 100% on their income while Scotland’s local and national politicians have failed to end what everyone agrees is an unacceptable situation.

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health, states that “charges made by local authorities for social care, where necessary, need to be fair and affordable.” But figures from 29 Scottish local councils suggest that disabled people have given up waiting for the Scottish Government to sort the problem.

19% of disabled people, some 14,500, who pay care charges are now in substantial arrears in their Care Tax payments and councils have started debt management procedures against almost 5,600 people. In 2014, 25 disabled people were taken to court for non-payment of their Care Tax.

In the first year of the non-payment campaign of the Poll Tax only 12.8% of people didn’t pay. It was only in the second year of the Poll Tax that non-payment levels rose to 21%.

While there is a popular campaign to end care charging led by Scotland Against the Care Tax, no organisation has yet called for an official non payment campaign. The current levels of non payment are simply the actions of those who cannot afford to pay an unfair tax that leaves them unable to pay for the essential things in the lives of disabled people.


Care Charges are the most unfair tax in Scotland. It is levied by local councils on disabled people who need personal and social care help. After a small personal allowance is taken account of, tax rates of up to 100% are applied by local authorities.

Jeff Adamson, Chair of Scotland Against The Care Tax, said, “This level of non payment of the Care Tax indicates a truly unfair and unpopular tax. All the fancy words from the Scottish Government won’t cover up the fact that disabled people are being hit … and hit hard by this tax and are simply not paying! Disabled People must be hanging on to millions of pounds in uncollected Care Tax payments that they need more than local councils.”

Ross McWilliam who has support needs and lives in the West of Edinburgh said, “The council want to charge me and my wife over £200 a month. I think its wrong. And I just don’t have the money to pay for it!”

Grace Anderson, mother of profoundly disabled adult son said, “Out of the blue we received the charge. I called the number for the council’s finance department telling them my son has no money and that I cannot pay it for him. They said we can only advise you to pay this. I am very concerned that at any moment the council can stop can stop my sons support while worrying me terribly that debt collectors are going to come to door for my son or the council will take my son to court.”

Scotland Against the Care Tax received 29 responses to its Freedom of Information request. Councils identified that

• 69,400 disabled and older people were paying care charges

• 14,344 disabled and older people were more than 4 weeks in arrears in payment of these care charges

• 5,583 disabled and older people had debt management procedures started against them

• 25 disabled and older people had court action started against them.

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