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Local authorities will only fund work that they have assessed your relative as needing, so grants are only available to people meeting certain eligibility criteria. 

A DFG is available to people who need to make changes to their home due to a disability. It could be used to fund work such as:

  • widening doorways
  • installing a stair lift
  • converting a downstairs room to a toilet or bathroom
  • fitting hand rails
  • making outside steps easier to use or installing ramps
  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.

Here we explain:

1. Who can get a Disabled Facilities Grant?
2. How much is available for a Disabled Facilities Grant?
3. How to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant
4. How a Disabled Facilities Grant is paid
5. Timings for major alterations
6. Grants in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Who can get a Disabled Facilities Grant?

Your relative could be eligible for a disabled facilities grant (DFG) if they, or someone living in their household, is disabled and needs to make their home safer or more accessible. The DFG is available to people renting a property, as well as homeowners. A family member, landlord or Home Improvement Agency can apply for a DFG on the disabled person’s behalf.

If your relative is a local authority or housing association tenant and applies for help with adaptations, the local authority/housing association will decide whether to carry out the work itself, or refer your relative for a DFG.

The council must have assessed that the work is:

  • necessary and appropriate to meet your relative’s needs
  • reasonable and can be done, depending on the age and condition of the property.

The DFG is means tested (for people over 18) so the amount that your relative could get depends on their household income and savings. The means test will look at the income and savings of the disabled person, and their spouse or partner if they have one. Other household members will not be included. The amount your relative can get is also dependent on the cost of the work that needs doing. Some people might get the total cost of adaptations paid for; others might have to contribute towards the cost.

How much is available for a Disabled Facilities Grant?

In England, it is possible to get up to £30,000 (2017-18).
In Northern Ireland, up to £25,000 is available (for more information, see below).
In Scotland, the sum is discretionary, depending on the local council (for more information, see below)
In Wales, up to £36,000 is available.

How to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant

1. Get an assessment 

Find out what changes are needed to your relative’s property, and how much these will cost. If your relative has had an assessment from the council (either an OT assessment or full care needs assessment), this will list recommendations. Find out how to book an OT assessment and what this involves.

2. Complete an application form 

Complete a DFG application form, which is available from local authorities or, in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). To find your relative’s local authority, enter his or her postcode in our Care services directory and select the ‘Local authority services’ tab on the resulting page.

3. Provide documentation

Make sure you have the necessary supporting documents, which must be submitted with the DFG application:

Written consent: the owner of the property must provide written agreement for the work to be carried out.

  • If the property is co-owned, then all parties must confirm their agreement in writing.
  • If the property is owned by a Housing Association or the council, the manager of the scheme must agree to the work before it can start.
  • If the property is privately rented, the property owner or managing agent must provide written consent.

Certificate: the applicant must complete a certificate which states that the disabled person will be living in the property for at least five years after the work has been completed, unless they are unable to due to health problems. This may be difficult for private tenants who have an assured shorthold tenancy for only six months.

4. Get estimates

The council will normally need two written estimates for the work. They may be able to provide a list of builders or give advice about employing one.

5. Apply for planning permission 

Your relative will need to apply separately for any necessary planning permission or building regulations approval (unless this is done by the Home Improvement agency or other organisation).

6. Submit the application

You will need to return the completed application to the local council for approval before work starts on the property. Be warned that if you start work before getting council approval, your application could be turned down. The local authority should respond, in writing, within six months of the application date.

In England and Wales, local authorities have the discretion to claim back the cost of the work carried out with a DFG up to a maximum charge of £10,000 if a property is then sold within 10 years. Check the local council policy in your relative’s area.

How is a Disabled Facilities Grant paid?

The DFG can be paid either:

  • by instalments as the work progresses, or
  • in full when the work is finished.

The council may pay the contractor directly or give your relative a cheque to pay the contractor themselves. The method of payment should be agreed when the council approves your relative’s application. If the work is carried out by a family member, the council will usually only pay for materials, not labour.

Timings for major alterations

Be aware that it can take a long time to complete major alterations. There are usually several organisations involved and it takes time:

  • for funding to be agreed
  • to prepare, submit and approve grant applications
  • to get planning permission (if needed)
  • for work to be tendered and building work to start.

Your relative may also need time to find the money for their assessed contribution to the work.

Grants in Northern Ireland and Scotland

In Northern Ireland, the NIHE must assess how practical and reasonable it is to have the adaptation works undertaken, taking into account the age and condition of the proposed dwelling. The NIHE also carries out housing adaptations to meet the needs of its tenants as well as providing adaptations funding for Housing Association properties. Social housing providers can also provide an agreed range of minor housing adaptations without the need for a Health and Social Care Trust assessment. NIHE tenants can contact their local office for further information, while Housing Association tenants should contact their landlord. More information and advice about alterations in Northern Ireland can be found here.

In Scotland, the system for arranging alterations on Scheme of Assistance is similar to the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). Your relative should apply to their local council, and their needs will be assessed, usually by an occupational therapist. The amount available depends on the local authority. Advice and information about alterations for disabled people in Scotland is available from Care and Repair Scotland.

More information

  • Self-funding home alterations: If your relative doesn’t qualify for local authority help, there are other ways they could raise cash to pay for home alterations.
  • Property downsizing: We explain the options for moving to a smaller property, including the benefits it could bring and when it may be suitable.
  • Helping with day-to-day finances: Find out more about the various ways that you can help your loved one with their finances.

Page last reviewed: April 2017
Next review due: April 2018