Funding For Equipment
Page last reviewed / updated: April 2021
Next review due: April 2022
Check If You’re Eligible for Health Or Local Authority Funding
Your OT / physio / specialist should be able to advise you. Broadly, for your daily use at your main home and school:
- Wheelchairs: you should be assessed by NHS Wheelchair services to see what funding they'll give for which chair
- Other mobility aids: should be provided by the NHS
- Equipment to assist independence at home: should be provided free by Local Authority Social Services
- Medical Equipment: for example to assist with breathing and airway clearance should be provided by the NHS
- Computers for use at school: should be funded by your Local Education Authority
You can find related information in Living With SMA section: Health & Social Care.
Be Clear What Funds You Need
If the NHS or Local Authority can’t pay for the equipment you need (or can only pay for part of it) and you and your family need to find a way to pay for it, it’s useful to think about:
- A quote from the supplier, including ‘hidden’ costs which might be added – things like delivery and set up
- Health Authority Contribution - if you need to fund a wheelchair, the Health Authority can sometimes make a contribution towards it through the Voucher or Personal Wheelchair Budget Scheme (PWBS). It’s worth checking whether this is possible and, if so, the value of any contribution.
- VAT (Value Added Tax) is automatically added to lots of products and services, but doesn’t have to be paid on certain disability aids and equipment for personal use. The general rule is that if the item has been ‘designed solely for disabled people’ it's VAT exempt. It includes: adjustable beds; hoists; sanitary devices; some medical appliances; emergency alarm call systems; any other equipment or appliance solely designed to be used by a disabled individual. VAT also doesn’t have to be paid on any charges made for the installations, repair and maintenance of these aids and adaptations. For more information on this please visit: www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled/vat-relief or phone HMRC on 0300 200 3700 or ask the supplier.
- Maintenance and insurance – will you need this? Some items of equipment will have guarantees or warranties. Some are very high value, such as a powerchair and will require maintenance and insurance. You might want to add these costs into your funding target.
There are a number of organisations and charities that may help with funding. Each one has its own criteria – which can be quite complex. The length of time charities take to make a decision also varies. Some process applications as they come in, others have set dates for considering applications. Many will part-fund for more expensive equipment but most charities won’t fund retrospectively, so it’s important your parents don’t make any order or pay any deposit until they're sure they’ve got all the funding lined up.
We suggest your parents, or your OT or physio, phone SMA UK to talk about your individual circumstances. We will then sift through the information we have and advise them where and how to apply for help.
Your Own Fundraising
Some families raise funds through the efforts of extended family, friends and other supporters. This might be via cake sales, sponsored events or online appeals such as crowdfunding. It pays to be very clear about your target and details of the equipment (including maintenance etc.) that you’re fundraising for. Let your sponsors know what you'll do if your money exceeds the target you need.
You can find advice and possible avenues for online fundraising here:
- Independent advice on crowdfunding: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/crowdfunding--what-you-need-to-know
- Go Fund Me: www.gofundme.com/how-it-works
- Just Giving: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding
- Tree of Hope:
This is how one person went about her own fundraising: www.smauk.org.uk/jasmine-fundraises-for-a-wheelchair
"The way I fundraised was by simply being persistent – I arranged quiz nights, raffle nights, pub nights...you name it I did it!"