The Disabled Facilities Grant provides the framework for local authorities to provide mandatory grants for housing applications to enable disabled people to live independently in their own homes.
Tendring District Council properties are adapted under the Special Needs Adaptations programme.
The Legal Framework
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) were introduced in 1990 but the principal legal provisions are now contained in the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (HGCRA) and Regulations made under it.
DFGs are mandatory grants and are available to disabled people when works to adapt their home are deemed necessary and appropriate to meet their needs and when it is reasonable and practicable to undertake such adaptations having regard to the age and condition of the dwelling or building.
In order for the Council to determine whether adaptations are necessary and appropriate, a recommendation is required from an Occupational Therapist (OT) from Social Services Authority. Generally the Council will accept OT recommendations, however in order to best use resources there may be a need to better identify and fully explore alternative solutions in some instances.
There are occasions whereby it is simply not reasonable and practicable to adapt a property. In cases where it is not possible to adapt a property to an appropriate standard or where the cost of the works is considered excessive, the Council may determine that works are not reasonable and practicable and may require other options to be considered.
It is important to note that the Council is sensitive to the aspirations of all applicants; however, these will not automatically form part of the considerations surrounding the determination of the most appropriate scope of works.
DFGs are subject to a means test (except in the case of children) giving due regard to the financial position of the applicant. This will determine the amount of any contribution they may be required to make towards the cost of the works and hence the amount of Grant available to them. Applicants in receipt of certain benefits are also exempted.
It is important to note that the means testing process is clearly defined by the Regulations and the Council does not have any discretion in applying it.
The current maximum Grant limit is £30,000 and all applications must be approved within 6 months of the full and complete application being submitted to the Council.
The grant can be recovered following the relevant disposal of the property within 10 years of payment provided that the Council is satisfied that it is reasonable to do so. Grants below £5,000 are excluded and the maximum amount that the Council can recover is £10,000.
The Process & Assessment
The HGCRA makes the council responsible for providing Disabled Facilities Grants. The council will, under law, process all properly made full Disabled Facilities Grant applications whether received from an owner-occupier or a tenant. This also applies in the case of Registered Social Landlord (RSL) cases, whether or not the Registered Social Landlord has an obligation or agreement in respect to funding of Disabled Facilities Grants.
It is important to note that adaptations provided directly by Registered Social Landlords are not strictly Disabled Facilities Grants as they may not have been provided in pursuance of the regulations.
You will need to apply to the Social Services Authority for an Occupational Therapist's assessment. Choose from the contact options below:
- 0345 603 7630
What Can Be Considered Part Of A Disabled Facilities Grant
In accordance with the regulations the following works can attract mandatory Disabled Facility Grant funding;
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant:
- To and from the dwelling
- To a room used or usable as the principle family room
- To a room used for or usable for sleeping
- To a room in which there is a lavatory
- To a room in which there is a bath or shower
- To a room with a wash hand basin
Such works may include:
Ramping and/or steps and handrails to the main external door. This could alternatively be a rear door in the case of a rear access. Only one access point will normally be allowed for each dwelling. Should external access to a garden be required this may be considered as the main entry to the property. Ramps are only approved for wheelchair users.
The council will not provide assistance for the removal of permanent ramps once installed.
Provision of hard standings (Usually 3.4m x 4.8m maximum) will be considered where the disabled person is in a wheelchair or has difficulty walking to the house. This will only be considered where existing on-street parking is deemed unsatisfactory and a marked disabled bay is not possible or where it affords a more economic solution than providing additional paths/ramping from the roadside. Please note: being a holder of a blue badge is not the eligibility criteria for this item.
External stair lifts will only be considered if reasonably practicable and they are not prone to excessive exposure or vandalism.
Widening doors will only be grant aided where these rooms are in essential use by the disabled person and the width of the existing doors is inadequate.
Automatic door opening to main entrance doors will only be allowed for persons who have severe mobility problems or otherwise unable to open the door. Door entry systems will primarily be operated from fixed positions and wireless systems will only be considered where fixed systems will not meet the need.
Other adaptations that are necessary to facilitate access to any of the relevant rooms by the disabled person will be considered.
Where an existing stair lift breaks down an accredited service engineers report is needed before it can be considered for replacement. If it is over 10 years, a report may not be required. All new stairlifts either straight or curved will include a 5 year extended warranty.
Adaptation of the facilities in the bathroom and toilet can include the provision of graded floor showers, lever taps, specialist WC's etc.
Existing sanitary ware will be re-used if considered appropriate.
The provision of tilling will be limited to that necessary to prevent water damage.
Free standing equipment within a shower room will not be funded by a Disabled Facilities Grant and in some circumstances may be provided by Adult & Children's Social Services.
The adaptation or provision of more than one bathroom to a house e.g. additional ground floor WC, will only be considered if evidenced by functional need and conformation that appropriate equipment can not be utilised.
Where someone other than the disabled person does and will continue to do the cooking and preparation of meals, normally it will not be necessary to carry out full adaptations. However, it may be possible to carry out minor adaptations to allow the disabled person to prepare light meals or hot drinks, typically this may include a low-level worktop with power points for a kettle/microwave.
Full adaptation will only be considered where the disabled person is the only or main user of the kitchen. Adaptations can include:
Alteration to the height or position of the kitchen sink and the type of taps fitted to it. Powered, adjustable-height sinks will not generally be allowed, as the provision of a second sink is a more economic solution.
A cooker point and oven-housing unit ensuring its height and position is in a safe location and the provision of work tops to either side where spacing allows.
Work surfaces located beside the sink and on each side of the cooker having a total length of approximately 1.5 metres, all at a suitable height for the disabled person where spacing allows.
Food storage in an accessible position, usually space for a refrigerator with power supply.
Wheelchair access, if necessary, including wider doors, rearrangement of facilities etc.
Alterations to the kitchen door, light switches and power points, but only if it is necessary.
Extensions or enlargement to kitchens can only be agreed where they are absolutely necessary in order to provide turning space for a wheelchair and if suitable space cannot be achieved by rearrangement of the existing facilities.
The provision of cupboard and storage units on an "essential" basis.
Mechanical ventilation for kitchen schemes are to be in accordance with the current building regulations.
Other Works That Will Be Considered
Alterations to the height and/or position of light switches and power points to make them accessible to the disabled person (only in rooms accessible to the disabled person).
Supplementary heating to the rooms that are in everyday use by the disabled person where a medical need can be demonstrated. This does not include repair to existing systems. Changes to the type of heating system will only be allowed if evidenced by medical need.
Provision of enhanced fire alarm systems for those with hearing difficulties.
Carrying out structural alterations where necessary to provide fixings for disabled equipment provided by Social Services.
Where an adaptation is required to a listed building and additional works are required to comply with requirements.
Where an adaptation cannot be carried out due to disrepair issues those repairs, within reason, may be carried out. Such works as replacement of rotted flooring or strengthening of the floor as part of a level access shower installation, electrical repairs to enable works to be carried out safely and dealing with low water pressure. Replacing defective drainage and a full rewire would not be eligible.
Additional bathrooms or bedrooms may be allowed where they are specifically for the disabled person and it can be demonstrated that adaptation of other rooms or space or access to those rooms in the property is unsuitable. Extensions will only be allowed following a detailed and thorough option appraisal process.
In cases of terraced properties with narrow passageways or very difficult access, effective adaptation can only proceed where it can be reasonably and practicably carried out without having a detrimental impact on neighbouring properties.
Access To The Garden
This will only be considered if specifically recommended by an Occupational Therapist.
In deciding the extent of any access to the garden, the following will be taken into account:
Grant assistance will not be given where there is already access to the garden, but a grant may be given to improve an existing access to make it safe for the disabled occupant to use.
It does not include extending an existing access e.g creating a side access so a person can also go around the side of a house. Generally, the most modest solution for providing access to both the house and the garden will be considered and this can mean that one access may be sufficient to access both the house and the garden.
Where homes have communal gardens e.g. blocks of flats served by a single access, grants will not normally be provided for an individual access to the garden unless it can be demonstrated that because of the disabled person's condition the travel distance to the garden would be excessive and unreasonable.
The grant will simply be for providing immediate access to the garden and does not include landscaping gardens to make them more suitable for the disabled person to access.
Relocation & Additional Non-Recommended Work
Where the Council deem it not reasonable or practicable to undertake adaptations to a property the Council may consider the option of relocation as an alternative method of meeting the applicant's needs.
Any grant awarded in respect to relocation will be to meet the reasonable costs associated with moving together with the costs of any lesser adaptation that may be appropriate to meet the applicant's needs in the new property as identified by Social Services. All properties will need to be inspected by a Private Sector Housing Officer for suitability prior to any grant being awarded.
Reasonable costs of moving include the following;
- Legal Fees
- Estate Agents Fees
- Stamp Duty (up to the lowest rate)
- Land Registration Fees
- Survey Fees
- Removal Costs (lowest of at least two quotes)
The above relate only to those reasonable costs incurred as a result of a relocation involving the sale and purchase of a property.
The Council will consider all relocation cases on their own merits and will give consideration to the most cost effective options/solutions.
The Council will only consider assistance in respect to relocation to a property deemed to be more appropriate to meet the disabled person's needs.
Additional Non-Recommended Works
Where the applicant wishes to undertake works which exceed those deemed necessary, appropriate, reasonable and practicable under the scope of the Disabled Facilities Grant then the Council may provide the Disabled Facilities Grant for the value of the works it determines meet those criteria and no more, minus any relevant contributions and/or fees and charges.
A Disabled facilities Grant will only be approved where the proposed works clearly meet the need of the disabled person as determined by Social Services.
The payment of the Disabled Facilities Grant will only be made upon certification by the Council that the works are complete and are of a satisfactory standard - stage payments may be considered in the case of extensions where distinct sections of the work have been completed and satisfactorily inspected by Building Control and Private Sector Housing.
The Council will require copies of all relevant statutory documentation prior to approving payment such as a copy of the Planning Consent and Building Regulations Completion Certificate, Party Wall notices etc.
"Nil Grant" Applications
Following the means test, should an applicant's contribution exceed the cost of the works deemed necessary and the applicant wishes to fund the works themselves then the applicant will be offered a "Nil Grant" application.
A Nil Grant application will ensure that any applicant contributions for eligible and relevant works will be considered and offset with respect to any future Disabled Facilities Grant applications.
The council will require a full and completed application for a "Nil Grant" award and all works will be subject to inspection and sign off as the cost of these works will potentially offset any Disabled facility Grant contributions.
Should you have any questions regarding the guidance you can fill in this online form or contact the following:
Private Sector Housing
Clacton on Sea
Telephone: 01255 686744