A Disabled Facilities Grant or DFG is available from Local Authorities to pay for essential housing adaptations to help disabled people stay in their own homes.
It is available in England and Wales.
The grant is able to pay for changes the council consider essential for the disabled person to live an independent life. The changes must be "necessary to meet your needs" and the work must be "reasonable and practical" gov.uk website.
This may include:
Other adaptations may be considered such as a drop kerb or a safe play area but these are not mandatory and may only be possible if discretionary funding is available.
With cut backs to Council funding there will be less money for extras as Councils struggle to meet their legal obligations.
The Council will only pay for certain products and up to an agreed price. So, if you want a more expensive product or additional work completed you will have to pay the extra cost yourself.
You can apply for a grant if you or someone living in your property is disabled and you are the owner occupier, a tenant (private, local authority, housing association, and licensee) or landlord of the property.
If you are a tenant in rented accommodation you can either apply for the grant yourself or your landlord can apply on your behalf.
But whoever applies your local authority will only agree to help you with your landlord's permission.
Though the landlord will have to give good reasons for refusing as he may be breaking the Disability Discrimination laws.
Applications are usually handled by the Housing or Environmental Health department at your local council. You may apply direct or through a referral by a social worker or occupational therapist.
The first step is for an occupational therapist (OT) to undertake an assessment of the disabled person's needs. The OT's recommendations are important as they are required as evidence that the changes are essential.
BE WARNED......there may be a long wait for an OT to be referred to your case.
Once you are allocated an OT it may take several visits to make a full assessment to ensure that you are happy with the choices and that all the needs have been addressed.
The OT will be able to explain the application process and advise on local conditions such as council waiting times.
The council may become involved before you submit the application form depending on the changes recommended. They may ask for structural surveys or planning permission to be carried out before making a formal application.
Councils have a statutory time limit of six months to make a decision on your grant application.
This is six months from the date of the formal application on the council's application form and does not include the time you have already spent waiting for an OT assessment, obtaining quotations or planning permission.
Some councils are quicker than others!
So, do check up on the progress of your application.
And remember don't start the work as the council will not pay for any work undertaken before the grant is approved.
Finally, when submitting your form you must also agree to remain in your property for 5 years.
The maximum amount of grant is:
The amount you receive depends on your own individual circumstances as the grant is means tested for adults. This takes into account your savings, income and outgoings.
For families with a disabled child under 19 years the grant is not means tested.
If the cost of the work is above the maximum grant your local authority has discretionary powers to provide further financial help.
An outside agency may be appointed to project manage the work. They will be responsible for obtaining quotations and liaison between the client and the contractors.
You may wish or may be asked to project manage the work yourself. This has the advantage of saving on the project management costs but the disadvantage of juggling and coordinating the work on top of any other responsibilities.
The choice is yours!
The grant is usually paid in instalments as work is completed and checked by the council.
In Scotland the councils are required to give grants for repairs, improvements, and adaptations.
It is recommended that disabled people in Scotland contact their local social work department before applying for a grant.
The Scottish Government provide a guide "Funding Adaptations to the Home - A Guide for Homeowners" that can be downloaded from their new website (currently in Beta mode).
In Northern Ireland the Disabled Facilities Grants is managed by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). The grant aid is up to a maximum of £25,000.