It can be a huge worry if you have an elderly parent or relative who is starting to have mobility difficulties and is struggling with their stairs. Getting a stairlift installed could enable them to use their stairs safely again, without the risk of injuring themselves in a fall. However, although buying a stairlift can work out significantly cheaper than moving house or having building work done to adapt the ground floor, the price can still be daunting for people on a low income. Here are some ideas on how to make getting a stairlift more affordable.
1. Consider a Reconditioned Stairlift
Purchasing a reconditioned stairlift can be a much cheaper option than buying a brand new one. Reconditioned stairlifts are second-hand models that have been pre-owned by someone else and then refurbished to ensure they are in full working order. Many stairlift companies sell reconditioned straight and curved stairlifts at a significant discount. With this option you can save money but still get the benefits of a guarantee and professional installation on a new track. A word of caution though – be wary of buying a used stairlift from a private seller, as you will have no guarantee it is safe to use.
2. Look at VAT Relief
Older people aged over 60 can get a stairlift at a reduced rate of 5% VAT (compared to the standard rate of 20%). This can help lower the price. If the person who needs the stairlift meets HMRC’s criteria of being “chronically sick or disabled” and is buying it for their own personal use they may be eligible to pay no VAT at all (0%). To benefit from this saving, it is important to ask the stairlift supplier for a “User VAT Declaration” form before making your payment, to make sure they apply the zero rating.
3. See if You Can Get a Disabled Facilities Grant
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) are means-tested grants for home adaptations that are provided by local councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The amount of money that the stairlift user might get as a grant towards the cost of a stairlift will depend on their household income and savings. Not everyone will qualify for a DFG and you will need to contact your relative’s council to apply. If they live in a rental property, they can request that their landlord applies on their behalf. Bear in mind there are certain conditions to being awarded a DFG and it can take several months to find out if your application has been approved or not.
4. Investigate Financial Assistance from Charities
Another source of financial aid that you may be available to your relative is a grant from a charitable organisation. Turn2us is a nationwide charity that can check which welfare benefits your relative is entitled to and help find any grants they are eligible for to finance a stairlift. There is a useful Grants Search tool on their website. Other charities that can help those in financial need include Independence at Home and the ACT Foundation, so you may also want to contact them for advice.
5. Consider Renting a Stairlift
In some situations, it can be more economical to rent a stairlift rather than buy one. Several companies offer rental stairlifts for which the user is charged a monthly fee. It really depends on your circumstances as to whether hiring a stairlift is a cost-effective option. Generally, renting a stairlift only works out cheaper if the user will only require a stairlift for a short time, such as during recovery from an operation or illness.
A stairlift can make a big difference to a user’s independence by enabling them to move freely between the floors of their home and keeping them safe on the stairs. As you can see, there are various ways to reduce the cost of installing a stairlift for people on a tight budget. If you’re concerned about an elderly relative struggling with the stairs, it is worth exploring all the options to see if a stairlift is an affordable solution.