Local social service departments and housing authorities will assess what improvements and adaptations you may need in order to live more independently in your own home. Local authorities can give two kinds of grants:
Discretionary grants (which are provided subject to means testing) cover getting the house in a liveable condition, for example, if it is structurally unsound or in serious disrepair. Grants may also cover improvements such as heating and putting in additional living accommodation
They are awarded after an occupational therapist from social services has assessed whether the adaptations proposed are necessary and appropriate. Grants are available to make it easier for you to get into and around your home, or to provide suitably adapted kitchen an bathroom facilities, heating and controls.
Mandatory grants are limited to £20.000 but local authorities may give more if they consider it necessary.
They cover work done to make the place better for disabled people to live and work in, such as creating a play area for a disabled child or adapting a room for working from home.
This is a discretionary grant. It may be given to meet the cost of minor repairs, improvements or adaptations subject to a limit of £2.000 per application or £4.000 over a three-year period.
It is not means-tested and, along with owner-occupiers and tenants (but not council tenants), you may be eligible for assistance if you have a right to occupy your home, even if you have no formal tenancy. You may also be eligible for Home Repair Assistance if you live in a mobile home or houseboat.
In Scotland There is a mandatory improvement grant to provide standard amenities to meet your needs as a disabled person. You might also be able to get discretionary improvement grants for works to make a house suitable for your welfare, accommodation or employment. The system is run by local authorities who will be able to give you details.
Home Insulation Grants EAGA Ltd, makes these grants towards draught proofing and insulating your home if you are on Attendance Allowance, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Council Tax Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Housing Benefit, Family Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or War Disablement Pension or you are aged 60 or over.
Phone free: 0800 072 0150
The local authority which gives the grant may commission the work and supervise it, perhaps together with a housing association. However, it is more usual for the applicant to commission the builder and to supervise the works where they are in receipt of a house renovation grant or disabled facilities grant.
Their website was formed to offer a unique reference point on building improvement and renovation advice.
Whether you are a property developer or simply renovating your home, they offer you help and advice on all aspects of building renovation.
Foundations is the National Co-ordinating Body for Home Improvement Agencies in England
Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) are not for profit, locally based organisations that assist vulnerable homeowners or private sector tenants who are older, disabled or on low income to repair, improve, maintain or adapt their home
There are around 250 such agencies across the UK. They help clients through the entire process of making decisions, arranging finance, and overseeing the building work.
Foundations role is to support, train and monitor agencies, to develop new schemes and to advise government on the allocation of funds from the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions to home improvement agencies.
These schemes are particularly important. The agencies give sensitive advice to each individual to suit their particular needs. Information is given about repair problems and cost, reliable builders, help available to pay for building work, and other grants and loans. As well as giving advice, agencies will handle applications and paperwork on behalf of disabled clients, and will check that building work is up to standard. Help is available for any job, from replacing a few slates to full renovation and improvement works.
Building repairs and adaptations are carried out where they are needed. Care & Repair schemes normally employ three workers. They liaise with service providers such as local authorities, building societies and trusts, and also develop a list of well tried builders. Sometimes, community programmes or voluntary labour are used for small repairs
If there is no Care & Repair scheme in your area, or if you prefer to make your own arrangements, it is important to be very careful who you choose to carry out building maintenance and repair work. Given the opportunity, slick salespeople may use high-pressure selling techniques to persuade you to enter into contracts for goods and services which you do not need and cannot afford. Some firms may take a deposit, but neglect to start the work, or may go out of business or simply disappear. Others, notoriously, will take on more work than they can handle, flitting from one job to another, leaving work unfinished and subjecting customers to long delays. Be particularly on your guard against people who come to your home uninvited and who seek to persuade you there and then that certain work needs doing. Above all, do not part with your money by way of a deposit to people who you know nothing about or rely on the word of a doorstep salesman that it is safe to sign documents, when you have not read them or do not fully understand their terms.
Most reputable, professional tradespeople belong to a trade association and work to a code of conduct. If anything does go wrong and you become involved in a dispute with the contractor, you can complain to the relevant association, which should be prepared to intervene and will hopefully put the matter right.
The golden rule is to make sure that you are in control, that you decide what work you want to have done, and that your requirements and a firm commitment to a work programme are put in writing. If the work is extensive, you may need to take the advice of an architect or surveyor, in which case you may find it helpful to consult the Centre for Accessible Environments (address below). When choosing a firm to carry out the work, try to take advice from people you trust and 'shop around', getting several estimates.
Care & Repair England is a charity set up in 1986
Care & Repair Forum Scotland's
One of the roles of your local authority is to help disabled people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. The social services and housing departments will work together to help if it is necessary for you to move to a more suitable property. They may also be able to arrange a transfer if you wish to move to a different area.
A housing association is a non-profit making organisation run by a voluntary committee to provide low cost rented houses or help low-income earners buy their own. Working closely with both local authorities and charitable groups, they can provide housing for people with particular needs such as disabilityYou can get a list of housing associations specialising in housing for disabled people from your local authority or Housing Corporation which would keep information on registered associations.The Accessible Property Register
Housing which is especially suitable for disabled people includes mobility housing, wheelchair and sheltered housing, and lifetime homes.Mobility housing is a house with special features such as a ramped entrance and wider doors for people who can walk but may sometimes need a wheelchair.Wheelchair housing is specially designed for people who use wheelchairs all the time.Sheltered housing is in flats or bungalows with a resident warden for people who are elderly and/or disabled.
Lifetime homes have flexibility to be adapted to people's changing physical capability over a lifetime, including possible wheelchair use.
Your local authority housing office will tell you about their services and about housing association properties in your area, and advise you which ones have access. They will give you an application form asking what kind of property you want and where you want to live.
In Scotland contact the local District Housing Department for
your area or Scottish Homes, the national housing agency. Tel: 0131 313
Provides housing for rent and shared ownership throughout Scotland for disabled, older and non-disabled people and their families.
In Wales you can also contact Tai Cymru (formerly Housing for Wales)
Tel: 02920 741500 (Cardiff) or 01492 641797 (Gwynedd)
Your Practical Guide To Crime Prevention. Free from Publicity Section, Home Office, Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1 9AT Tel: 0207 273 2193
From your local Fire Brigade headquarters
Further information on home improvements in England and Wales:
The following three publications are available free of charge from the department of the Environment transport and the Regions, Publications Dispatch Centre, Blackhorse road, London SE99 6TT (tel: 0208 691 9191; fax: 0208 694 0099) or, in the event of difficulty, from Housing Renewal Policy Division, Zone 2/G9, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU, or through the Department's Public Enquiry Unit on 0207 890 3333:House renovation grants. This booklet provides general advice on the whole grants system.Disabled facilities grants. This leaflet provides advice on grants to adapt a disabled person's homeHome repairs assistance. This leaflet provides general advice on the assistance available for minor works to a persons home.
Help with housing repairs (Carers National Association, 20-5 Glasshouse Yard, London EC1A 4JS, tel: 0207 490 8818; fax: 0207 490 8824), free to carers. An information booklet.
In Scotland, local councils operate a scheme under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which is different from that in England and Wales. Some types of grant are mandatory, but others are discretionary. Grants may be refused if the property concerned was built or provided by conversion less than 10 years from the date of application (though this restriction can be waived in exceptional circumstances). Grants must be refused in the case of owner-occupier property if the Council Tax valuation band is above Band E (£80,000 at the time of writing). Where allowable, grants are based on the 'approved expense' accepted by the council within prescribed limits in prescribed circumstances. Details are given in a free booklet, available from The Scottish Office, Development Department, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ, or from local authorities.
Works needed to make your home suitable for the welfare, accommodation or employment of a disabled person are eligible for improvement grants of up to 75 per cent of £12,000. A Standard Amenity Grant is available to a disabled occupant for the provision of an additional standard amenity more suitably located in the house. Neither the age of the property nor its Council Tax band are taken into consideration when the grant is for a disabled person.
There is a scheme similar to that in England and Wales provided under Part III of the housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992. The grant limit for the Disabled Facilities grant is £20,000 and this applies to a combination of mandatory and discretionary works.
A summary of the arrangements is given in the booklet A guide to Home Improvement Grants published by the Northern Ireland housing Executive. There are also leaflets providing general information about particular kinds of grant: Disabled facilities grants, Housing options for older people, Minor works assistance, renovation grants, and Housing help for people with a disability. These publications, further information and necessary forms can be obtained from 32-36 great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7BA (tel: 02890 317000) or any other local Housing Executive grants office.
Northern Ireland: Staying Put, Fold Housing Trust, 3-6 Redburn Square, Holywood, County Down BT18 9HZ (tel: 02890 428314)
While it cannot
take up individual complaints, the Office of Fair Trading, field House,
15-25 Bream's Buildings, London EC4A 1PR ( consumer information line:
0345 224499), is an invaluable source of information about all consumer
matters. It has published an easy-to-read
free booklet, Home
Improvements, which describes in greater detail the pitfalls often associated with arranging
home improvements. In addition to general advice, it explains the importance
of contracts ( and of reading them before you sign!), cancellation rights
( which apply only in limited circumstances), guarantees ( which may be
worthless) and your legal rights. There is also a useful list of relevant
trade and professional bodies, some of whom have sound guarantee schemes
or codes of practice.
Centre for Accessible Environments
60 Gainsford Street,
London SE1 2NY
Tel: 0207 357 8182; fax: 0207 357 8183
E-mail: cae@ globalnet.co.uk
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