How to Apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

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What is a Disability Facilities Grant (DFG)?

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

It could be used to finance works such as:

  • install a walk-in shower
  • the installation of a stair lift
  • conversion of a ground floor room into an accessible toilet or bathroom
  • widen doors
  • connection handrails
  • facilitate the use of exterior steps or install handrails
  • improving central heating or adapting lighting controls for ease of use.

Learn more about how home adaptations help people live independently.

How much is available for a FGD?

In 2021-2022:

  • In England, it is possible to get up to £ 30,000.
  • In North Ireland, up to £ 25,000 is available.
  • In Scotland, the amount is discretionary, according to the local council.
  • In Wales, up to £ 36,000 is available.

The means test for the scholarship for people with disabilities

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

A means test looks at your income and savings as well as those of your spouse or partner, if you have one. The first £ 6,000 of household savings are means test exempt.

Each local authority has its own policy for the means test, so it is not possible to provide information on precise limits on income and savings. Contact your local authority to learn more about their Means Review for a FGD.

The amount you can get will also depend on the cost of the work to be done. Some people may be charged the full cost of accommodations; others may have to contribute to the cost.

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

Other things to note:

  • If you are a family member, representative or owner supporting a person with a disability, you can apply for a FGD on their behalf.
  • The DFG is available whether you are a tenant or owner of your home.
  • If you are a tenant of a housing authority or cooperative and you request planning assistance, the housing municipality / association will decide to carry out the work itself or to refer you to a DFG.

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

1. Get an assessment

Find out what changes are needed for your property and how much it will cost. If you have already undergone a board assessment (either an occupational therapy (OT) assessment or a comprehensive assessment needs assessment) this will list the recommendations.

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

The board 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 on employing one.

2. Complete a DFG request form

This is available from your local authority or, in Northern Ireland, the Housing manager. This should include a description of your proposed accommodations and two cost estimates along with details of all other fees and charges.

You may be able to get help with the process of applying for a Home renovation agency.

3. Provide documents

You must own or rent the property or intend to own or rent it. There must be a disabled person living on the property. You will need to provide documents to prove either of these scenarios, which must be submitted with the DFG application.

Written consent: if you are a tenant, the landlord must provide a written agreement for the work to be carried out. If the property is co-owned, all parties must confirm their agreement in writing.

Certificate: if you are an applicant, you must complete a certificate indicating that you will live in the accommodation for at least five years after the end of the work, except in the event of incapacity due to health problems. This can be difficult if you are a private tenant and have a short-term rental insured.

4. Apply for a building permit

You will need to separately apply for any necessary building permits or building by-law approvals (unless this is done by a home improvement agency or other organization).

5. Submit the request

You will need to return the completed application to the local council for approval before work begins on the property. Be warned that if you start work before you get approval from city council, your application may be rejected. The local authority must respond in writing within six months of the date of the request.

How is a DFG paid?

The DFG can be paid either in installments as the work progresses, or in full at the end of the work.

The board can pay the contractor directly or give you a check to pay the contractor yourself. The method of payment must be agreed upon when the board approves your request. If the work is being done by a family member, the board will usually only pay for materials, not labor.

Restrictions following the completion of works financed by the DFG

Moving house

When you sign a grant application, you will need to sign a certificate stating that you intend to stay there for at least five years after the work is completed. However, this should only be an “intention” to stay. If you wanted later reduce size or move to a nursing home because your circumstances have changed, the grant should not be claimed.

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

Successive grants

If your needs change following completion of work with a DFG, you have the right to apply for another grant as long as the cumulative total does not exceed the legal limit.

How to appeal a DFG decision

If you think you have been unfairly denied a FGD, or if you are unhappy with the way you have been treated by your counsel, read our article on contest a decision of the local authority.

Scholarships in Scotland and Northern Ireland

North Ireland

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) will assess the practicality of having the proposed adaptations undertaken, taking into account the age and condition of the accommodation offered.

NIHE also carries out housing adaptations to meet the needs of its tenants, as well as financing the properties of the housing association. Social housing providers can also provide an agreed range of minor housing adaptations without the need for a health and social services assessment.

If you are a NIHE tenant, you can contact your local office for more information. If you are a tenant of a housing association, you must contact your landlord. Learn more about adaptations and grants in Northern Ireland here.

Scotland

The system for organizing adaptations to the assistance scheme is similar to that of the subsidy for disabled people. You should contact your town hall and your needs will be assessed, usually by an occupational therapist.

The amount available depends on the local authority. Advice and information on accommodation for people with disabilities in Scotland is available from Maintenance and repair Scotland.

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

If you are not eligible for a GFR but need to make fundamental lifestyle changes, there are other options to consider:

  • More help for home adaptation: some communities will pay for minor adaptations regardless of your assets (for example, if they cost less than £ 1000). For more expensive jobs, you may need to use your own income and savings or consider getting a personal loan or taking out equity release.
  • Downsizing: Information on the pros and cons of downsizing, options and considerations, and how to organize your move.
  • Sheltered house: a practical guide explaining the different types of sheltered housing, how to buy or rent it as well as the cost and the details of choice.
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