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Disabled Facilities Grant for Home Adaptations

A Guide and how to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant from a local council which
helps pay for adapting a disabled persons home so they can continue to live there.
For disabled people and the elderly with mobility problems and other impairments

See also: Housing for Disabled People

Introduction

Such grants are given by local councils under Part I of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration
Act 1996.

Disabled Facilities Grants are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland only. Scottish residents should contact the social services department of their local council for information on any grants that may be available.



What a disabled person can use the grants for:

A grant can be used to give you better access to the parts of your home your mobility problem restricts you from and provide adaptations to enable you to use essential facilities within it.

For disabled people the work can include:

1. Widening doors and installing ramps.
2. Providing or improving access to rooms and facilities. By installing a stair lift or providing a downstairs bathroom for example.
3. Help in accessing and use of a toilet.
3. Improving or providing a heating system which is suitable for your needs.
4. Adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
5. improving access to and movement around the home to enable you to care for another person who lives in the property, such as a child

An occupational therapist will look at your circumstances and can recommend the type of adaptation(s) needed

Be aware that If you are considering applying for a grant you should contact the local housing or environmental health department at your local council before you start work.

Before applying for a grant:

When you have established what adaptations or facilities are needed, you should find out the amount and the type of work which needs to be done and the likely cost. Whether or not the work is grant-aided, it is important to ensure that the work gets done properly and at a reasonable price. For major work it may be best to employ a qualified architect or surveyor to plan and oversee the work - if you get a grant, the cost of their fees can be included in the cost of the works. It is also sensible to employ a reputable builder - some councils keep lists of local architects, surveyors and builders who specialise in renovation work.

When applying for a grant, your council will normally require Two written estimates before deciding on the cost of the works eligible for a grant. It is sensible to get competitive quotes from reputable builders or installation companies and it may be worth using one who belongs to a trade association which operates a guarantee scheme such as those run by the Building employers Federation or the Federation of Master Builders. The council may be able to give you a list of builders or be able to advise you about employing one.

Getting a disabled Facilities grant:

While grants for a range of works are mandatory you should not assume that you will automatically qualify for a grant, as they are means tested and in some cases discretionary.

Who can apply for a grant?:

An applicant must either be the owner of the dwelling or be a tenant, and be able to provide to the local authority the necessary 'owner's certificate' or 'tenant';s certificate'. This will not always be the disabled person for whom the works are required. In such cases the applicant should make it clear on whose behalf application is being made.

A landlord may apply on behalf of a disabled person.

when applying for a grant the applicant, whether owner occupier, tenant or landlord will be asked to sign a certificate stating the intention that throughout the grant condition period, currently five years, (or such shorter period as the disabled person's health and other relevant circumstances permit) the disabled person will occupy the dwelling as his only or main residence.

The amount of grant and how it will be calculated:

All grant applicants will be subject to a means test which assesses how much, if anything, the applicant must contribute towards the cost of the work. The amount of grant is what is needed to meet the cost of the works over and above the applicant's contribution. However, for mandatory grants this is subject to a grant limit which your local council will be able to explain.

There are two types of grant:

Mandatory grant:

If you are disabled, grant is mandatory for essential adaptations to give you better freedom of movement into and around your home and to essential facilities within in it. Where necessary it can also provide. The types of work are:

To make it easier to get into and out of the dwelling by, for example, widening doors and installing ramps;

Ensuring the safety of the disabled person and other occupants by, for example, providing a specially adapted room in which it would be safe to leave a disabled person unattended or improved lighting to ensure better visibility;

To make access easier to the living room;



By providing or improving access to the bathroom, and kitchen, toilet, washbasin and bath (and/or shower) facilities; for example, by instaling a stair lift or providing a downstairs bathroom;

To improve or provide a heating system in your home which is suitable to the needs of the disabled person;

To adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use; and

To improve access and movement around the home to enable the disabled person to care for another person who lives in the property, such as a spouse, child or another person for whom the disabled person cares.

Discretionary grant:

The council has discretion to give grants for a wide range of other works to make a home suitable for a disabled occupant's accommodation, welfare or employment needs. Such works can include providing a safe play area for a disabled child or providing or adapting an existing room to enable a housebound disabled person to work from home. The council also has discretion to give a grant for works which qualify for mandatory grants where the cost would exceed the grant limit for such grants. The council will be able to advise you further about these possibilities.

Other relevant grants:

If your property is in a serious state of disrepair or unfit for human inhabitation, you may also need to apply for a renovation grant. The property should normally meet the statutory fitness standard when the grant-aided works are completed, but your council has discretion to waive this requirement.

Do the council have to give a grant?

When you apply to the council for a disabled facilities grant, they will need to check that the proposed works are:

Necessary and appropriate to meet the disabled person's need. Usually, they will consult an occupational therapist from the local social services department to make the assessment; and

Reasonable and practicable depending on the age and condition of the property.

The council needs to be satisfied about each of these matters, and the overall feasibility of the works, if they are to give a disabled facilities grant. A local authority can refuse a disabled facilities grant if they believe the scheme is not practicable.

How will the grant be calculated?

To ensure that the grant goes to the most needy households, the amount of grant you will get will be decided by a means test which will look at the income and capital of the disabled person and their spouse or partner. Where the disabled person is a child the means of the disabled person's parents are also taken into account.

The test calculates the disabled person's average weekly income, taking account of any savings above £5,000 (savings below this are ignored as are certain benefits including those which specifically recognise a person's disability). This is then set against an assessment of basic needs which are recognised by a range of allowances.

If the disabled person's resources are less than this assessment, then they will not normally need to contribute to the cost of the works. If the disabled person is on income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance, they will not normally have to make a contribution although this will not necessarily be the case if anyone else is being assessed.

If the disabled person's resources are more than the assessment, then a proportion of their income will be used to calculate the size of loan they can afford to finance the works. This 'affordable loan' is then deducted from the cost of the works and grant will be given to cover the remaining cost, if any. Therefore, in practice, the amount of grant is equal to the cost of works minus the 'affordable loan'.



How to apply

Ask at the local housing or environmental health department of your local council. They will also be able to provide an application form. You should do this before you start any of the work. You will not normally get any grant if you start work before the council approve the application. If the work is urgent, you should get in touch with the council and let them know the circumstances. You should ensure that you separately secure any approval for building regulations or planning purposes that is required.

The council will provide you with an application form which will set out the further documentation you will need to support your application. An application is only valid if it is made on the council's form and if it includes all the information required.

Grant approval:

The council must give you a decision in writing within six months of receipt of a completely valid application and of any additional information they may require. In a few cases a local authority may specify a date before which grant is not payable. This will be no later than twelve months from the date on which the application was made.

Grant payment:

Grants will only be paid when the council are satisfied that the work has been completed to their satisfaction and in accordance with the grant approval. Note, however, that you are responsible for ensuring that your builder meets the standard you require.

Grant can only be paid on provision of an acceptable invoice, demand or receipt of payment of the works. An invoice is not acceptable if it is for work or services provided by the applicant or a member of his/her family. Where the works are carried out by the applicant or a relative, only invoices for materials or services bought in will be acceptable.

The council may pay the grants in full on completion of the works or by instalments as the works progress.

The council may decide to pay the grant direct to your contractor or provide the instrument of payment in a form made payable to the contractor. If they do so, they must tell you when they approve your application. This should not affect your right to ensure that the contractor has completed the works to your satisfaction. If the contractor has not, you should notify the council so that they can withhold payment, if appropriate.

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