Care Questions : Article 15Care Questions : Article 15

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.15

"My Mother lives in the North of England and is in her eighties. We are unable to get to see her as much as we would like and we are worried that as she gets older she may become frailer and need some help. We are thinking about building a granny annexe on our home and wonder how this will effect our Council Tax position."

Answer : This additional unit of accommodation will normally be assessed as a separate dwelling. However, if the separate home is occupied by someone who is aged 65 years or over and a relative of someone who lives in the main dwelling then such an annex is exempt from Council Tax. Therefore your personal position should not alter.

"My neighbour, lives alone and has no relatives. She is a pensioner and has no other means of financial income. I understand that there are organisations that may provide her with a holiday, do you know of any?"

Answer : One I know of is The National Benevolent Fund for the Aged. The charity was founded in 1957 and to date has provided over 42,000 holidays for lonely, elderly people.The charity is not just concerned with holidays but offers a range of help and information for older people, especially those who live on their own.

To obtain further information you can write to them at The National Benevolent Fund for the Aged, 32 Buckingham Palace Road, London. SW1W 0RE or telephone them on 020 7828 0200.

"My sister and I are both retired and would like to consider attending some of the London shows. My sister is blind and has a guide dog which she would need to bring with her. Are guide dogs allowed in the theatres?"

Answer : The London Theatre Guide advises that all theatres welcome guide dogs. Many theatres though are not able to allow guide dogs into the auditorium. In such cases however, staff are happy to look after them whilst their owner watches the performance. You would need to contact the theatre in advance so that arrangements can be in place for when you arrive.

"Since I have retired I do not drive many miles in comparison with when I was working and driving to work daily. Is there any car insurance that gives lower premiums relative to the mileage you do?"

Answer : Norwich Union are piloting a "Pay As You Drive" insurance scheme, which if successful will be available nationwide in 2005. The insurance will be based on how often, when and where the motorist uses their car. A monthly usage premium would then be charged. The monitoring would be done by using tracking technology monitoring the cars movements. Quite simply you would be in control of your premiums with this method. Contact Norwich Union for further news and watch the press for other insurance companies who may follow with similar schemes.

"I bought a product from a mail order advertisement. When it came it was not quite what I thought it was and I did not want it. I rang the telephone number given on the order details and was told that I could not have a refund. I reluctantly kept the object but could I have insisted on my money back?"

Answer : Yes, Distance Selling is covered by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. In this legislation there is the right to have to a "cooling off period". This gives you the right to change your mind and cancel an order within seven working days after the day on which the goods were received by you.. You must register your intention in writing (proof of posting or registered letter gives added safety) that you wish to cancel and return the goods.

While you still have the goods you must look after them and you must either return them or make them available for the seller to collect. You will probably have to pay for the cost of returning the item. Once the item has been returned you are entitled to expect your refund within 30 days.

"I retired from work with a disability and have not driven for several years. My wife has never learnt to drive. In order to have an increased social life I am considering the possibility of buying a car again. Do you know of any organisation that could provide me with driving tuition taking into account my disability and at the same time advise me about selecting the make and model of a car that will be the most appropriate for me?"

Answer : There are Mobility Centres around the country that will be able to help you. They give driving tuition for those returning to driving after a long absence, give an assessment re your ability to drive taking into account your disability and if appropriate recommend the models of car that would be most suitable for you. There are two centres in the South West of England and these are The Cornwall Mobility Centre Ltd in Truro Te, 01872 254920 and The Mobility Service of the Disabled Living Centre (West of England) based in Bristol. Tel 0117 965 9353.