Disability Rights UK Factsheet F49
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1. Disabled facilities grants
Disabled facilities grants (DFGs) are grants provided by your local authority to help meet the cost of adapting a property for the needs of a disabled person. The scheme operates in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Who can get DFGs?
To be eligible for a DFG, you must be one of the following:
- an owner occupier;
- a private tenant;
- a landlord with a disabled tenant;
- a local authority tenant; or
- a housing association tenant.
Some occupiers of caravans and houseboats are also eligible.
If you are one of the above and applying for the grant for someone else who is disabled, you need to state this on your application.
The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 is the main legislation for DFGs.
Who is a disabled person?
You are treated as disabled if one of the following applies:
- your sight, hearing or speech is substantially impaired;
- you have a mental disorder or impairment of any kind;
- you are substantially physically disabled by illness, injury, impairment present since birth, or otherwise; or
- you are registered (or could be registered) disabled with the social care department.
What can you get a grant for?
You can get a grant to help a disabled person:
- have easier access to and from the property (such as widening doors or installing ramps);
- make the property safe for the him or her and others living with them (such as a specially adapted room where a disabled person could be left safely unattended or providing improved lighting for a disabled person with sight problems);
- have easier access to a room used or that can be used as the principal family room;
- have easier access to a room used or that can be used as a bedroom;
- have easier access to a room in which there is a lavatory, bath or shower (such as by providing a stairlift);
- by providing a room in which there is a lavatory, bath or shower, and wash-hand basin;
- use a lavatory, bath or shower or wash-hand basin;
- prepare and cook food;
- by improving or providing a suitable heating system;
- use a source of power, light or heat (for example adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use);
- have easier access and movement around the home to enable the disabled person to care for someone dependent on them, who also lives there (such as a child, husband, wife or partner); or
- have easier access to the garden or make access to the garden safe - the garden can include a yard, outhouse or other facility within the boundary of land attached to your home. It can also include a balcony or land next to the mooring of a houseboat.
2. Applying for a DFG
DFGs are normally paid by your local housing authority (your local Housing Executive Grants Office in Northern Ireland) who should provide you with an application form. A local authority cannot refuse to allow you to make a formal application or refuse to give you an application form.
You should not have any work carried out on the property until your local authority approves the application. If the work is urgent, you should contact the local authority to discuss this. You will also need to ensure that you separately get any planning or building approval needed.
How much is it?
The maximum grant payable under a DFG is £30,000 in England, £25,000 in Northern Ireland and £36,000 in Wales. The grant will only be paid when the local authority is satisfied that the work has been completed to their satisfaction and in accordance with the grant approval.
The actual amount of DFG that someone can get depends on the income and savings of the disabled person (and his or her partner), even if the disabled person has not actually applied for the grant (such as when an application is made by a landlord with a disabled tenant).
The income and savings test is similar, but not identical, to that for means-tested benefits (such as income support or pension credit). In all cases, the first £6,000 of any savings are ignored.
If the disabled person's income and savings are below the test limits, there will be no need for him or her to contribute to the cost of the works.
If the disabled person's income and savings are more than the test limits, then a contribution will be required from them towards the cost of the works.
There is no means test for a DFG if an application is made for the benefit of a child or a young person under the age of 19 for whom child benefit is payable.
For more detailed information on how DFGs are calculated, see our Disability Rights Handbook.
What if the grant isn't enough?
You may be able to get help under other local authority housing grant schemes. See section 3 below.
Can my local authority refuse to give me a grant?
A DFG is mandatory (ie you are entitled to one if you satisfy the conditions for it) but in order to approve an application, the local housing authority must be satisfied that the works are both ‘necessary and appropriate’ for the needs of the disabled person, and ‘reasonable and practicable’ in relation to the property.
In order to check whether the works are necessary and appropriate, the local housing authority usually refers you to the social care department first for an assessment by an occupational therapist.
How long should an assessment take?
There is a 6-month time limit for the local authority to give you a decision. This starts from the date of your formal application. Sometimes your local authority may specify a date of payment for the grant, but this should be no later than 12 months from the date on which you made your application.
If you do not get a decision within 6 months of applying, write and ask why and request that a decision be made. Seek legal advice if you still do not get a decision, or if you have been prevented from applying in the first place.
For more information, see our Factsheet F6 - complaining about local authority decisions.
In Northern Ireland, you can complain to the Housing Executive.
3. Other Housing Grants: England and Wales
Under the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002, local authorities have the option to provide financial and other assistance for repair, improvement and adaptation. This is help available in addition to DFGs.
You can be given help in the form of a loan or grant, equipment or materials or advice. Local authorities can set their own conditions for deciding who gets help. They may, for example, choose whether to look at your income and savings when you apply for a grant.
You can be given help to:
- get accommodation;
- adapt, improve or repair accommodation;
- demolish accommodation; or
- replace accommodation that has been demolished.
Your local authority must publish a policy explaining what kind of help they may give, who can get it, what information is available, how to apply for it and how to complain. Contact your local housing department to find out more.
Guidance about these powers is contained in Housing renewal circular 05/2003, available at http://tinyurl.com/cslydcw
Aids and minor adaptations
In England, Part 2 of the Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc) Act (Qualifying Services) (England) Regulations 2003 allows the local authority to provide you with an aid, or a minor adaptation to your property as long as it is for the purposes of assisting with nursing at home or aiding daily living. There is no cost for this but the aid or adaptation should not cost more than £1,000.
In Wales, there is a ‘Rapid Response Adaptations Programme’, designed to quickly provide small-scale adaptations to the homes of elderly and disabled people to help them continue to live independently. The scheme can also provide help if you are leaving hospital or residential care. The scheme is delivered by Care and Repair Cymru (www.careandrepair.org.uk/ - see also their leaflet at www.careandrepair.org.uk/housing-adaptations/). To use it, you need a referral from your local authority or a health professional.
Help from social care
You may be able to get help with adaptations as part of a care and support package provided by your local social care department. For more information, see Delivering Housing Adaptations for Disabled People, available at: http://careandrepair-england.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DFG-Good-Practice-Guide-30th-Sept-13.pdf
4. Other Housing Grants: Northern Ireland
The following housing grants/schemes are available in Northern Ireland:
Renovation Grant - For the improvement of homes which have been inspected and found to be unfit to live in, or a home that is presently fit to live in but which will become unfit if repairs are not carried out. These grants will only be approved in exceptional circumstances.
Repair Grant - A grant which is available to landlords, agents and tenants towards the cost of repairing houses following the issue of statutory notices by the local authority. These grants are unaffected by the current funding limitations.
Replacement Grant - For the replacement of homes in rural areas which have been deemed unfit to live in. These grants will only be approved in exceptional circumstances.
Home Repair Assistance Grant - A grant available to anyone eligible to carry out small-scale work. These grants will only be approved in exceptional circumstances.
The Northern Ireland Housing executive website has information about these at www.nihe.gov.uk/index/benefits/home_improvement_grants/grants_available.htm
5. Housing grants in Scotland
In Scotland, under The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, local authorities are allowed to provide grants, loans, subsidised loans, practical assistance and information or advice to home owners for repairs, improvements, adaptations and the acquisition or sale of a house.
If you are a home owner, you can get a grant for:
- structural adaptations to a house which are essential to a disabled person's needs; or
- providing standard amenities intended to meet the needs of a disabled person - such as a fixed bath or shower, wash-hand basin or sink or a toilet.
The grant will be 100% of approved costs if the you or a member of your household get income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, the guarantee credit of pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance. In other cases, the minimum grant will be 80%.
If you are a tenant, you can only get a grant or loan for one of the following:
- for work which has been your responsibility under your tenancy for a period of two years before your application;
- for adaptations to a disabled person's house to make it suitable for their accommodation, welfare or employment, or for the reinstatement of any house adapted; or
- for work which is required as a matter of urgency for the health, safety or security of the occupants of a house, including, in particular, work to repair it or provide means of escape from fire or other fire precautions.
For more information, contact your local authority. Guidance for local authorities is provided in Guidance on the provision of equipment and adaptations available at http://tinyurl.com/3cnn3mc.
See also Help with adaptations to your home: A guide for disabled people in private housing in Scotland, available at www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/266465/0079748.pdf and Funding adaptations to the home: A guide for private tenants, available at www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/348026/0115913.pdf. Both of these are produced by the Scottish Government.
Where can I get more information?
This factsheet is a basic overview of housing grants available in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You can find out more detailed information, including how Disabled Facilities Grants are worked out, in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at https://crm.disabilityrightsuk.org/. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.
You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.
Martin Inch and Ian Greaves
13 May 2016