1. ITV Report

Huge increases in council tax bills in Cornwall

A dozen elderly residents at a home in Cornwall are facing huge increases in their council tax bill. Abbeyfield House at Saltash has been classed as one dwelling and paid one large council tax bill. Now the Valuation Office has decided each bed-sitting room is a separate home and each must pay council tax of £771.

Each bed-sitting room at Abbeyfield House to face council tax bill Credit: ITV News West Country

Most of the residents are in their eighties and nineties and are very worried about the bigger bills they face for accommodation. Those on low incomes should be able to claim benefit to cover the extra, but those who rely on savings could be badly hit.

96 year old Dorothy Lucas faces huge council tax increase Credit: ITV News West Country

One of the residents, 96 year old Dorothy Lucas, showed ITV Westcountry reporter John Andrews the one room where she has her bed, chair, and a small basin to make coffee and wash her mugs. She has an en suite bathroom. Dorothy has no cooking facilities and eats with other residents in the communal dining room. They all share a meal cooked in the home's one main kitchen.

The local chairman for the Abbeyfield House charity, Eric Distin, says local authorities are relying more than ever on charities to provide housing and care for the rapidly growing number of pensioners. He says it makes no sense to decide this one home is now more than a dozen separate dwellings.

Abbeyfield House in Saltash faces changes to council tax bills Credit: ITV News West Country

The Abbeyfield charity has 500 similar homes all across the country. So far only one other has been affected by the change, but Eric Distin says it could have a devastating effect if the new valuations are applied to every residential home for the elderly.

The Valuation Office says it is continuing to negotiate with the home to get the decision reversed and go back to the way it has been for the last fourteen years since it opened.

Watch John Andrews report below.