Disabled Facilities Grants – what parents and carers need to know
A lot of the families that we support have a disabled relative who might benefit from a Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) so we thought it would be helpful to remind those families what DFGs are and how to apply for them.
DFGs are grants awarded by local authorities to help towards the cost of making essential adaptations or improvements to a home, ensuring that it is accessible and safe for a disabled person and enabling that person to live an independent life They are up to a maximum of £30,000 in England.
How do DFGs work?
For people over the age of 18, they are means-tested and anyone with a permanent disability of any sort – including physical and learning disabilities, sensory impairments and mental illness – is eligible to apply.
Each local authority has its own policy for the means test, so it’s not possible for us to provide details as to the assessment criteria limits, however the means test will look at the person’s income and savings together with that of their spouse or partner (if relevant). Other members of the household aren’t included, and the first £6,000 of household savings are exempted from the means test.
DFGs can be used to fund all sorts of home adaptations ranging from minor alterations, for example the addition of improved shower facilities, light switch adaptations or ramps, to major home extensions or modifications such as the installation of different heating systems.
Crucially a Disabled Facilities Grant won’t affect any benefits a disabled person receives.
Why are DFGs so important?
DFGs not only allow a disabled person to feel safe and secure in their home, but can also help the whole family feel a sense of enjoyment, privacy, confidence and dignity. For parents and carers, making changes to the family home may make it easier for them to care for their disabled child and increase their loved one’s level of independence.
It is widely reported that the cost of adapting homes to allow children with disabilities to live at home are socially and economically worthwhile.
In 2017, Cerebra and the School of Law at Leeds University, with assistance from the Access Committee for Leeds, carried out a pilot study of the economic and well-being impact of building adaptations to family homes to accommodate the needs of young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders who have behaviours that challenge.
The study looked at the cost-effectiveness of six real-life examples of home improvements made for a disabled child (where each one averaged a cost of £60,000) and the findings calculated that possibly 14 years of local authority funds had been saved due to the adaptations.
How do I apply?
Applications are usually made to the Housing or Environmental Health department of the local council. Once an application is received, the council will allocate an Occupational Therapist (OT) to undertake an assessment of the disabled person’s needs. The OT will visit the disabled person in their home and will be able to explain the process, local timescales (it’s not a quick process!) and likelihood of success.
Where can you find more information?
- UK guidance on DFGs: https://www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants
- Find your local authority: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council
- Money Advice Service: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/funding-to-adapt-your-home-for-accessibility
- Cerebra – one family’s story: https://cerebra.org.uk/latest-news/disabled-facilities-grants-one-familys-story/