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Written on 9th February 2017 by Ruth Meyer

As I mentioned in the first of this series – What is a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)? – this piece looks at how to apply for a grant.

The first step in making an application for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is to contact the local council. Some councils have designated people who deal with DFG applications. Others will advise you to contact the local Social Services department.

The council’s approach to DFG’s

Whatever the council’s approach, the matter is always referred for a Local Authority Occupational Therapist (OT) to undertake an assessment. Most councils will insist that the assessment can only be carried out by their own OT. They will usually not accept an assessment from any other OT, even if you have one.

The assessment process for DFG’s

Most often there is a delay in the DFG application whilst waiting for the OT assessment to be conducted. Most Local Authority OTs have waiting lists. This is the most frustrating part of the application process. Waiting lists can vary greatly. Some may only be a few weeks; others can be up to two years.

The OT will assess the needs of the disabled person and the proposed property to be adapted.  If the DFG works only form part of a larger adaptation project, the OT may well ask for a copy of the plans prepared by the architect.

Once the assessment has been carried out, the OT will prepare a report for the council. If the assessment is favourable, you are usually then asked to complete the formal DFG application booklet. The application should be completed in the name of the disabled person, even if it is a child.

When to expect the council’s decision

The legislation states that the council must give you a decision in writing within six months of having received a completed and valid application form. The decision in writing, which will confirm the items the council are prepared to fund, as well as their calculation of the worth, is the Approval Notice.

The Approval Notice will frequently confirm that the total amount of the works is more than the cap for the DFG. Even where the council has confirmed this, you will still only receive an amount up to the total amount allowed, e.g. £30,000 in England.

Unfortunately, the DFG application process can take a number of months. This can be difficult for families, especially if the council have stated that no work can begin until they have issued their decision.

Once the council have issued their Approval Notice confirming items to be covered by the Grant, the work or the relevant DFG work can commence.

What will a council ask for?

The council will confirm in writing whether they will pay the builders directly in respect of the grant works or provide a refund to whoever funded this work.

Most councils will only release the grant funds once the work has been completed.  Frequently, they will require the OT to reassess and confirm the works.

The council may also state that the DFG funds are to be paid out within 12 months of their Approval Notice. If there is a large adaptation project underway or due to commence, the work may take longer than 12 months. If this is the case, you may need to ensure that all of the DFG works have been completed and can be reassessed, even if other parts of the project are ongoing.

Paying back a DFG

If you are a homeowner who has received a DFG to adapt your property, the council who paid the grant will have a requirement for some, or all, of the grant to be repaid if the property is sold within a certain number of years.  For most council’s, this period is ten years. However, you should check this with the relevant council to ensure you are aware of their repayment policy.

Examples of successful Disabled Facilities Grant applications

At Boyes Turner, our court of protection team frequently get involved in DFG applications on behalf of their clients. Some examples of where we have successfully claimed a DFG for clients with awards of compensation are:

  • An 11 year old boy based in the Midlands who, as a result of brain injuries at birth, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He received an award of compensation in excess of £2,000,000 and was awarded a full DFG of £30,000.
  • A 7 year old girl based in Berkshire who, as a result of brain injury at birth, is now a permanent wheelchair user. She received an award of compensation in excess of £3,000,000 and was awarded a full DFG of £30,000.