What is a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)?
A DFG is a means-tested grant for disabled people to enable you to make changes to your home to continue living there. 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.
How much is available for a DFG?
In England, it’s possible to get up to £30,000 (2019-20).
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.
Who can get a DFG?
The DFG is means tested for people aged 18 years or over, so the amount that you could get depends on your household income and savings. The means test looks at your income and savings together with that of your spouse or partner, if you have one. Other members of the household aren’t included. The first £6,000 of household savings are exempted from the means test.
As each local authority has its own policy, we’re unable to provide you with information as to the threshold for income and savings. We suggest that you contact your local authority to find out more.
The amount you 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.
The council must have assessed that the work is:
- necessary and appropriate to meet your needs
- reasonable and can be done, depending on the age and condition of the property.
Other things to note are:
- if you’re a family member, landlord or Home Improvement Agency supporting a disabled person, you can apply for a DFG on their behalf
- you could be eligible for a DFG if you, or someone living with you, is disabled and you need to make the home safer or more accessible
- the DFG is available whether you rent your property or own your home.
- if you’re a local authority or housing association tenant and you apply for help with adaptations, the local authority/housing association will decide whether to carry out the work itself, or refer you for a DFG.
- 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 area.
How do I apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)?
Get an assessment
Find out what changes are needed to your property and how much these will cost. If you’ve already had an assessment from the council (either an OT assessment or full needs assessment) this will list recommendations. Read our occupational therapy article to find out how to book an OT assessment.
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.
Complete a DFG application form
This is available from your local authority or, in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). This must include a description of your proposed adaptations and two estimates of the cost together with details of any other fees and charges.
Each department has their own application forms, some of which are 45 pages long, most of which are means related. I hold all my data on a computer ready to be lifted from the last application and dropped into the new application, which is very valuable.
You must be the owner or tenant of the property or intend to become the owner or tenant and there must be a disabled person living in the property. You will need to provide documentation to prove either of these scenarios, which must be submitted with the DFG application.
Written consent: if you are renting a property, the owner 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: if you are the applicant, you must complete a certificate which states that you will be living in the property for at least five years after the work has been completed, unless you’re unable to due to health problems. This may be difficult if you are a private tenant and you have a short-term assured shorthold tenancy.
Apply for planning permission
You 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).
Submit the application
You’ll 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.
How is a DFG 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 you a cheque to pay the contractor themselves. The method of payment should be agreed when the council approves your application. If the work is carried out by a family member, the council will usually only pay for materials, not labour.
Grants in Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (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.
If you’re an NIHE tenant, you can contact your local office for further information. If you’re a Housing Association tenant, you should contact your landlord. Find out more about adaptations and agencies in Northern Ireland here.
Grants in Scotland
The system for arranging adaptations on Scheme of Assistance is similar to the Disabled Facilities Grant. You should apply to your local council, and your needs will be assessed, usually by an occupational therapist.
The amount available depends on the local authority. Advice and information about adaptations for disabled people in Scotland is available from Care and Repair Scotland.
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