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Written on 8th February 2016 by Ruth Meyer

A Disabled Facilities Grant (known as a DFG) is an amount of money provided by a local council. It is potentially available to a person if they are required to change their home as a result of themselves, or a family member within the home, being disabled. The grants have been made available by the government under Part 1 of the Housing Grant, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

Some examples of items that could be funded by a local council DFG are:

  • Widening of doors for wheelchair access.
  • Installing a ramp to make accessing your home easier.
  • Stair lift.
  • Heating system changes to meet your needs.
  • Changes to heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.
  • Creation of a downstairs bathroom or wet room, to include items of equipment.
  • Ceiling track hoists.

The above list is however not exhaustive and can change, depending upon an individual’s need following an assessment.

How much will I get if I apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant?

For a disabled adult, the amount received from a DFG will depend upon household income. Eligibility for a DFG for a disabled adult is means tested. As a result, the income and capital of the disabled person and their spouse or partner (collectively referred to as the relevant person) is considered.

Separate to the amount of income the relevant person has in the household; if the household has capital in excess of £6,000 then the means test will mean that you are not eligible. However, if you do not have a working spouse or partner in the household and are in receipt of benefits, you may well be eligible.

People who have received awards of compensation may still be eligible if the funds are held in Trust or are under the control of a Court of Protection appointed Deputy.

Depending on where you live in the UK, the maximum grant available can vary, as follows:

  • England – up to £30,000.
  • Wales – up to £36,000.
  • Northern Ireland – up to £25,000.
  • Disabled Facilities Grants are not available to those who live in Scotland.

You can apply for a DFG if you are a homeowner or a tenant.

Most councils will require you to have employed an architect or a surveyor to plan and oversee the work to the property.

Using a Disabled Facilities Grant to adapt your home

Many councils require you to apply for a grant before any work on the property has begun. The way the council deals with when the work can start varies greatly. Some councils will allow adaptations to commence while the DFG application is being considered, although the work or equipment relevant to the DFG application cannot be started. However, some councils will state that no work whatsoever can be commenced until the outcome of the DFG application has been determined. This would be irrespective of whether the work impacts upon items to be claimed as part of a DFG.

The council will confirm their position in writing. You must always ensure you know the council’s stance on the work commencing before it starts. A DFG application cannot be made retrospectively. A council can also reject an application if the work has started before they have given permission for it to start.

Many councils will require at least two quotes from different contractors. If the DFG appropriate works form part of a much larger property adaptation project, the council may require sight of the tenders. You should ensure that the council has confirmed their requirements in this regard.

If the DFG works form part of a larger adaptation project, the council will usually allow you to choose which contractor you prefer. You will however be required to advise the council which contractor has been chosen.

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.