We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

12 November 2021

How to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

A Disabled Facilities Grant could help to pay for essential adaptations to your home if you are disabled. We explain the eligibility criteria and how you can apply.
W
Which?Editorial team

What is a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)?

A Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is a means-tested grant for people with a permanent disability of any sort – including physical and learning disabilities, sensory impairments and mental illness. A DFG will enable you to make changes to your home that will help you to continue living there.

It could be used to fund work such as:

  • installing a walk-in shower
  • installing a stairlift
  • converting a downstairs room to an accessible toilet or bathroom
  • widening doorways
  • fitting hand rails
  • making outside steps easier to use or installing ramps
  • improving central heating, or adapting lighting controls to make them easier to use.

Read more about how home adaptations help people to live independently.

How much is available for a DFG?

In 2021-22:

  • In England, it’s possible to get up to £30,000.
  • In Northern Ireland, up to £25,000 is available.
  • In Scotland, the sum is discretionary, depending on the local council.
  • In Wales, up to £36,000 is available.

The Disabled Facilities Grant means test

The DFG is a means-tested grant for people aged 18 years or over, so the amount you could get depends on your household income and savings.

A means test looks at your income and savings together with that of your spouse or partner, if you have one. The first £6,000 of household savings are exempted from the means test. 

Each local authority has its own policy for the means test, so it’s not possible to provide information about the precise limits for income and savings. Contact your local authority to find out more about their means test for a DFG.

The amount you can get will also depend 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.

In order to get the funding, the council must decide that the work is (a) necessary and appropriate to meet your needs, and (b) reasonable and can be done, taking into account the age and condition of the property.

Other things to note:

  • If you’re a family member, representative or landlord supporting a disabled person, you can apply for a DFG on their behalf.
  • 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.

How do I apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)?

1. 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 occupational therapy (OT) assessment or a full needs assessment) this will list recommendations. 

If you need an assessment, your council will visit to assess if your home is suitable for adaptation and what is needed. There might be a long waiting list, in which case ask if you can use a private OT. You should be able to include the cost of this in your grant application, but check with your council first.

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

2. Complete a DFG application form

This is available from your local authority or, in Northern Ireland, the Housing Executive. This must include a description of your proposed adaptations and two estimates of the cost together with details of any other fees and charges.

You may be able to get help with the application process from a Home Improvement Agency

3. Provide documentation

You must be the owner or tenant of the property or intend to become the owner or tenant. 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.

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 an assured shorthold tenancy.

4. Apply for planning permission

You will need to apply separately for any necessary planning permission or building regulations approval (unless this is done by a Home Improvement Agency or other organisation).

5. 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 yourself. 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.

Restrictions following the completion of DFG-funded work

Moving home

When you sign a grant application, you will have to sign a certificate to say you intend to stay living there for at least five years once the work is complete. However, this only needs to be about an ‘intention’ to stay. If you subsequently wanted to downsize or move into a care home because your circumstances have changed, the grant shouldn’t be reclaimed.

If you receive a grant of more than £5,000 and own your home, some councils will place a local land charge on the property. This means that if you move within 10 years, you may need to repay some of the grant.

Successive grants

if your needs change following the completion of work using a DFG, you are entitled to apply for another grant as long as the combined total doesn’t exceed the statutory limit.

How to appeal against a DFG decision

If you think you have been unfairly refused a DFG, or you’re unhappy with how you’ve been treated by your council, read our article about challenging a local authority decision.

Grants in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) will assess how practical it is to have proposed adaptations 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 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 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 grants in Northern Ireland here.

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.

What are the alternatives if I’m not eligible for a grant?

If you aren’t eligible for a DFG but need to make some fundamental changes to the way you live, there are other options to consider:

  • More help with home adaptations: some local authorities will pay for minor adaptations regardless of your assets (for example, if they cost less than £1,000). For more expensive work, you may need to use your own income and savings or look into getting a personal loan or taking out equity release
  • Downsizing: information about the pros and cons of downsizing, the options and considerations and how to set about organising your move.
  • Sheltered housing: a practical guide explaining the different types of sheltered housing, how to buy or rent it together with cost and choosing details.