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Disabled facilities grants

This content applies to England & Wales

Disabled facilities grant is a grant for adapting or providing facilities for a disabled person in their home.

Overview

A disabled facilities grant is a grant for adapting or providing facilities for a disabled person in a dwelling, a houseboat or caravan, or in common parts of a building containing one or more flats.[1] Disabled facilities grants are mandatory, which means that a local authority must provide a grant to a person who has met all the required conditions (see below). However, a local authority may decide to give discretionary assistance for adaptations in addition to, or instead of, a mandatory disabled facilities grant.

A disabled person may be entitled to assistance and services, including specifically aids and adaptations,[2] which local authorities are under a duty to provide, under the Care Act 2014, regardless of whether or not a disabled facilities grant is available.

For information on housing for people with disabilities, see the page on Disabled people: care and support at home.

Purposes of grant

A disabled facilities grant may not be approved unless the local authority is satisfied that the works are necessary and appropriate to meet the needs of the disabled occupant, and that it is reasonable and practicable to carry out the works having regard to the age or the condition of the building.[3] The local authority will assess the application in consultation with the social services authority.

A disabled facilities grant must be made available if it is required for one or more of the following purposes:[4]

  • facilitating access by the disabled person to and from the premises
  • making the dwelling, houseboat, caravan or building safe for the disabled occupant or other people living with her/him
  • facilitating access by the disabled occupant to a room which is used or could be used as the main family room
  • facilitating access to, or providing, a room which is used or could be used for sleeping
  • providing, or making it possible for a disabled occupant to access, a room containing a lavatory, bath, shower or wash-hand basin, or facilitating its use
  • making it possible for food to be prepared or cooked
  • improving any heating system in the dwelling, houseboat or carava to meet the needs of the disabled occupant, or, if there is no existing heating system or it is unsuitable, providing a suitable system
  • facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of a source of power, light or heat, by altering the position of access and control or providing additional means of control
  • facilitating access and movement by the disabled occupant around the dwelling in order to enable her/him to care for a person who is normally resident in the dwelling and is in need of such care (for example a disabled child) and
  • other purposes which may be specified by the Secretary of State.

It must also be made for the purposes of:

  • facilitating access to and from a garden by a disabled occupant; or
  • making access to a garden safe for a disabled occupant.

For the purpose of these provisions, a garden is defined as 'belonging to, or enjoyed with, a dwelling, caravan or flat which is occupied by a disabled occupant' and includes:

  • a balcony adjoining the dwelling of a disabled occupant
  • a yard, outhouse, or appurtenance which belongs, and is normally enjoyed within, the boundaries of the land where the dwelling or caravan is situated - in the case of a flat this means a yard, outhouse or other appurtenance which the disabled occupant enjoys
  • land adjacent to a disabled occupant's qualifying houseboat.

If a local authority finds that the relevant works are more or less extensive that is necessary to achieve one of the purposes set out above, they can, with the applicant's consent, treat the application as varied. This means that the relevant works are limited to, or include, such works as the authority believes to be necessary to achieve that purpose.[5]

Eligibility

Provided the works for which the disabled facilities grant application is made is to be carried out for the benefit of a disabled occupant, any of the following can apply:[6]

  • an owner-occupier (ie the freeholder or a leaseholder with an interest of at least five years)
  • a landlord
  • a tenant
  • certain licensees (if prescribed by the Secretary of State)
  • an occupier of a caravan
  • an occupier of a houseboat.

A disabled occupant is any person with a disability (see below), for whose benefit it is proposed to carry out any of the relevant works. A person qualifies as disabled if:[7]

  • s/he is suffering from a mental illness or disorder
  • s/he has a significant hearing, sight or speech impediment
  • s/he is physically disabled as a result of an injury or an illness
  • s/he is over the age of 18 and is registered as disabled under section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948
  • s/he is a minor and is registered as a disabled child under the Children Act 1989.

An applicant who is below the age of 18 does not qualify for a disabled facilities grant.[8] It is possible, however, for an adult to apply for a disabled facilities grant for the purpose of providing facilities for a person who is under 18.

A person from abroad (who is not allowed to claim housing benefit) cannot apply for a disabled facilities grant.[9]

Local authority and registered social landlord tenants are eligible to apply for disabled facilities grants and are assessed for needs on the same basis as private owners and tenants. If a council tenant requests help with adaptations, the local authority will decide whether to carry out the work under its own resources for capital works or to advise the applicant to apply for a disabled facilities grant.

Application

An application for a disabled facilities grant must be made in writing and must include details of the works needed, at least two estimates of the costs of carrying out the works and details of any other services and charges such as the disconnection of utilities.[10]

The requirement that the application be made on a prescribed form has been revoked,[11] so potential applicants should be advised to consult the relevant local authority regarding the application procedure. A certificate containing information about the future occupation of the property must be attached to the application, and the local authority will not consider any application that is submitted without a certificate. There are three different types of certificate:

Owner-occupiers

An owner's certificate certifies that the applicant has, or proposes to acquire, an owner's interest in the dwelling, and that s/he intends that the disabled occupant will live in the dwelling as her/his only or main residence from the certified date throughout the grant condition period or for such shorter period as her/his health and other relevant circumstances permit.[12]

Tenants

A tenant's certificate certifies that the applicant is the tenant, and that s/he intends that the disabled occupant (or if s/he is the disabled occupant, s/he) will live in the dwelling as her/his only or main residence from the certified date throughout the grant condition period or for such shorter period as her/his health and other relevant circumstances permit.[13] A tenant's application should, however, normally be accompanied by an owner's certificate from the landlord, unless the local authority considers that it is unreasonable in the circumstances to ask for it.[14]

Occupiers of houseboats/caravans

In the case of a houseboat or caravan, an occupier's certificate is required stating that the applicant is the occupier and that the applicant intends that s/he (if s/he is the disabled occupant) or the disabled occupier will live in the houseboat or caravan as her/his only or main residence throughout the grant condition period or for such shorter period as her/his health and other relevant circumstances permit. An occupier's application must usually be accompanied by a consent certificate from each person who owns the mooring or land on which the houseboat or caravan is stationed, or who owns the houseboat or caravan (ie the landlord and/or site owner).[15]

Approval or refusal of a disabled facilities grant

The local authority is required to provide notice in writing, approving or refusing the grant application as soon as reasonably practicable, and not later than six months after the date of the application.[16] An approval must include the following:

  • a statement of the works eligible for a grant
  • the amount of expenses which, in the authority's opinion, are properly incurred by the eligible works
  • any preliminary or ancillary services or charges (for example the cost of having plans drawn up)
  • the amount of grant which will be paid.

If an application for a disabled facilities grant is refused, the applicant is entitled to a written explanation from the local authority of the reasons why her/his application has been rejected. Once the applicant has considered the reasons why her/his application has been unsuccessful, s/he may consider making a formal challenge. As with the other forms of assistance that may be available from the local authority, the applicant has a number of options if s/he decides to challenge the local authority's refusal to grant her/him a disabled facilities grant.

The applicant may, firstly, decide to use the local authority's formal complaints mechanism. Alternatively, s/he may either contact the local authority's monitoring officer or the Local Government Ombudsman in order to make her/his complaint. S/he may also be able to challenge the decision of the local authority by way of judicial review.

For more information, please see the page on Potential problems.

Maximum amount

The local authority will apply a means test in calculating the amount of grant that should be given to the applicant. The maximum amount in England is £30,000[17] and £36,000 in Wales.[18] However, where the cost of carrying out works to a suitable standard exceeds this maximum amount, the local authority has the power to add to it by providing a grant or a loan. It should not fetter their discretion by deciding not to provide top-up grants.[19]

Means testing

The means test involves an assessment of the disabled person's resources, and that of their partner. The means test does not apply to a landlord's application, or to the parents of a disabled child or young person.

In applying the means test, the financial resources of the relevant person are calculated by establishing the average weekly income, which will include any capital income. Where the relevant person has a partner, the resources are assessed jointly.

The means test is applied to the relevant person, who is:[20]

  • the disabled occupant, or one of the disabled occupant's of the dwelling, or
  • the partner, or a partner of, the disabled occupant or one of the disabled occupants of the dwelling.

A relevant person who receives the following benefits will have her/his weekly income regarded as £1:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance (from 5 August 2009)[21]
  • the guarantee credit part of pension credit, whether as a claimant, or the partner of the claimant
  • housing benefit
  • maternity allowance.

A relevant person in receipt of working tax credit or child tax credit, whose annual income is calculated as being less than £15,050, will also will have her/his weekly income regarded as £1. The regulations set out certain other earnings,income and capital that are to be disregarded.[22]

The calculations used to ascertain the applicable amount which the applicant could her/himself finance, and by which the grant is accordingly reduced,[23] are very similar to those applied to housing benefit.

If the income is less than the assessed needs, then there will not normally be any need to contribute to the cost of the works. If the income is more than the assessed needs, then a proportion of the income will be used to calculate how much you could contribute towards the cost of the works. If this assessed amount is less than the cost of the works, the difference between the two is paid as disabled facilities grant.

In relation to landlords, the local authority will take into account, for example, the extent to which the landlord will be able to charge a higher rent for the premises because of the works.[24] Local authorities may also seek the advice of rent officers.[25]

Payment of grant

Once the local authority has approved an application for a grant, it may decide to pay the amount in full once the work is completed, or it may make staggered payments, as the work progresses and the balance after completion of the work, as long as no more than nine-tenths of the grant is paid before completion.[26]

Who receives payment?

Grants are generally paid directly to the contractor provided that the applicant was told before the grant was approved.[27] However, if the applicant is not satisfied with the work that has been carried out, s/he can ask the local authority not to pay the contractor, and in this case, the local authority may decide to pay the amount to the applicant. If the local authority does not agree with the applicant's complaint that the work has not been carried out to a satisfactory standard, s/he may decide to object to this formally (see above).

Deferring payment

The local authority may decide to postpone the payment of a disabled facilities grant, or part of it. However, where the work is complete, the delay cannot be for more than 12 months from the date on which the application was made. The local authority must inform the applicant if it decides to delay payment.

Refusal to make payment after approval of grant

Once it has approved an application, the local authority may only refuse to pay the grant if one or more of the following circumstances applies:

  • where the applicant is no longer a person entitled to the grant, for example if s/he ceases to occupy the relevant property, or s/he dies
  • where the authority considers that the amount to be paid was determined on the basis of inaccurate or incomplete information and exceeds that to which the applicant was entitled
  • where the applicant does not complete the works satisfactorily within the time allowed
  • where the cost of the eligible works and costs incurred on preliminary or ancillary service is less than the estimated expense
  • where the authority finds out that without its knowledge the works were not carried out by one of the contractors who submitted an estimate[28]
  • where the works are not carried out to the satisfaction of the authority and
  • where the applicant fails to provide an acceptable invoice, demand or receipt for payment for the works or for the preliminary or ancillary services and charges.[29]

In circumstances where the grant has already been paid out, the local authority can take appropriate action to recover it, and it may require the payment with interest.

Conditions attached to the grant

The local authority may make it a condition of the grant that the works are carried out in accordance with their specifications. It may for example, specify the materials to be used. The following are mandatory conditions which will be applied by all authorities:

  • that the work is finished within 12 months of approval, although the local authority may extend this time[30]
  • that the work is carried out by one of the two contractors from whom estimates were submitted with the application, unless the authority directs otherwise.[31]

Where a local housing authority approve an application for a grant they may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, impose other conditions as they think fit (such as a requirement to have appropriate insurance). They can require repayment of all or part of the grant, plus interest, if the conditions are breached.[32] The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ruled that in exercising their discretion in relation to their grant approval policies a local authority has to have regard to the human rights of the applicant.

A council should not automatically assume that its policy should be applied in all cases and should take into account the individual circumstances of the applicant(s)[33]. See the page Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) for more information about complaining to the Ombudsman.

Successive applications

A disabled occupant whose condition is degenerative may need further adaptations to her/his home at a later date. The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 does not place any express restriction on successive applications for disabled facilities grants. In these circumstances, depending on the time lapse between the successive applications, provision is made in the Housing Renewal Grants Regulations[34] to reduce the amount of an applicant's current contribution. The contribution will be reduced by any previously assessed contribution if the applicant went ahead with the previous adaptations.

Discretionary assistance for disabled facilities and adaptations

From 18 July 2002, local authorities have a general power which enables them to give discretionary assistance, in any form (for example a grant or a loan), to cover the cost of adaptations or to help the disabled occupant to move to alternative living accommodation. There is no restriction on the amount of assistance that may be given and discretionary assistance may be paid in addition, or as an alternative to, a mandatory disabled facilities grant.

Assistance can be given for a wide range of purposes. A local authority may, for instance, consider giving assistance in the following circumstances:

  • for minor adaptations intended to either satisfy needs which are not covered by disabled facilities grants or, where urgent adaptations are required, to provide a speedier remedy, which would not be obtained if the complicated procedures involved in the provision of disabled facilities grants were used
  • to supplement a disabled facilities grant because the works are very expensive, or because the applicant cannot afford the contributions, or where works that are not eligible for a disabled facilities grant are required
  • to assist the disabled person to move to a more suitable property where it is more cost effective than adapting the current home, even though the new property may need some adaptation.

See the page on Housing renewal assistance for details of the power of the local authority to grant discretionary assistance.

[1] s.1 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, as amended Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860.

[2] regs 3 and 4 Care and Support (Charging and Assessment of Resources) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/2672.

[3] s.24(3) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[4] s.23(1) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[5] reg 3(2) Disabled Facilities Grants (Maximum Amounts and Additional Purposes) (England) Order 2008 SI 2008/1189.

[6] s.19 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, as amended Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860.

[7] s.100 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[8] s.3(1) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[9] s.3(3) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[10] s.2 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[11] Housing Renewal Grants (Prescribed Form and Particulars) (Revocation) (England) Regulations 2010 SI 2010/2417; Housing Renewal Grants (Prescribed Form and Particulars) (Revocation) (Wales) Regulations 2011 SI 2011/1501 (W.175).

[12] s.21 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[13] s.22(2) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[14] s.22(3) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[15] s.22A Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (inserted by Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 SI 2002/1860).

[16] s.34 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[17] reg 1 Disabled Facilities Grants (Maximum Amounts and Additional Purposes) (England) Order 2008 SI 2008/1189.

[18] reg 2 Disabled Facilities Grants (Maximum Amounts and Additional Purposes) (Wales) Order 2008 SI 2008/2370.

[19] Ombudsman complaint against Walsall MBC, complaint no 07/B/07346.

[20] reg 5 Housing Renewal Grants Regulations 1996 SI 1996/2890, as amended.

[21] Housing Renewal Grants (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2009 SI 2009/1807.

[22] schs 2,3 and 4 Housing Renewal Grants Regulations 1996 SI 1996/2890 as amended by Housing Renewal Grants (Amendment) (England) (no.2) Regulations 2008 SI 2008/3104, and Housing Renewal Grants (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2009 SI 2009/1087 (W.95).

[23] s.30 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[24] s.31 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[25] s.31(4) Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[26] s.35 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[27] s.39 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[28] ss.42 and 43 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[29] s.37 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[30] s.37 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[31] s.38 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[32] s.52 Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

[33] complaint no 09 006 783 against Blaby DC, Local Government Ombudsman.

[34] reg 13 Housing Renewal Grants Regulations 1996 SI 1996/2890.

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