More than 40,000 people a year receive a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to adapt their home, make it safe and accessible.
It is a very cost-effective intervention, which helps to reduce hospital admissions and speed up discharges; cut domiciliary care costs; and delay the necessity to move into residential care.
Research has found that people who have had grant-funded adaptations and subsequently move into care, do so some four years later than those who have not had adaptations carried out. Yet older and disabled people who could be eligible are still often unaware of the existence of DFGs, and provision is patchy.
Ambre-stone Ltd works closely with Occupational Therapists to efficiently process Disabled Facilities Grants
As with any applications, there’s always a process to be followed, timescales to be considered and parties to be involved. We trust you’ll find the following overview of how DFGs work, will assist in processing your applications.
Ensure you make use of the DFG Tenders – Home Adaptation Portal . It currently takes an average of 34 weeks from assessment to completion of works. The portal immediately cuts that by four weeks
What you need to know about DFGs
• You can apply for a grant to adapt your home, so that you can continue to live there.
• Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) are awarded by the local authority if they judge that your home needs adapting in order to meet your needs, and that the necessary works are both reasonable and practical.
• You can apply whether you are a homeowner or tenant; but you need to be able to certify that you intend to occupy the premises as your only, or main, residence throughout the grant period, which is currently five years.
• A landlord can apply on behalf of their tenant.
• Disabled Facilities Grants can be used to pay for works such as widening doorways and installing ramps for wheelchair access; improving or installing a suitable heating system; altering heating or lighting controls; providing access to bathroom facilities, either by means of a stair lift or a new ground floor bathroom; improving access to and around the home to make it easier to care for a disabled resident.
• An occupational therapist (OT) will visit your home to assess your needs and the adaptations required.
How much is a Disabled Facilities Grant?
• The amount of grant you get will vary, depending on your income, any savings, and what the council assesses as reasonable financial outgoings (actual expenditure is not considered). Unless you are applying for a grant in respect of a child who is under 19, in which case it will not be means-tested in this way.
• Savings under £6000 are disregarded. If you have a partner, your joint income will be assessed. Some benefits, such as Income Support and Disability Living Allowance, are also disregarded for the purpose of calculating the grant. The amount of grant could be anywhere from zero to 100% of the cost of the works.
• The maximum amount of Disabled Facilities Grant that councils are obliged to pay is £30,000 in England, per application, and £36,000 per application in Wales. They do have the discretion to pay more, if the eligible works cost more than this sum. In Scotland, there is a different system, and Scottish residents should contact their local social services department, to find out what grants are available.
• If you receive a Disabled Facilities Grant, it won’t have an effect on any other benefits you receive.
How to apply?
• To apply, contact the housing department or environmental health department at your local authority, and ask them to send you an application form. Not sure of your local authority? You can identify it by putting in your postcode on this page on the DirectGov website. It is very important that you don’t start any work before you are awarded your grant. The council must give you a decision within 6 months of the date you apply. If the works are major, you will also need to apply for planning permission and/or building regulations approval.
• The grant may either be paid in full when the work has been satisfactorily completed, or it may be paid in instalments at agreed stages during the works. The council may give you a cheque, or pay the contractor directly. You agree these arrangements with the council at the outset.
Foundations professional web portal for Disabled Facilities Grants
As part of a drive to reduce delays in processing Disabled Facilities Grants, Foundations, the umbrella group for Home Improvement Agencies, has launched a web portal to bring home adaptation surveyors and contractors together.
The DFG Tenders – Home Adaptation Portal uses an advanced customer relationship management platform to speed up the process of awarding contracts.
Following a pilot scheme with 20 HIAs, it is now fully operational.
It currently takes an average of 34 weeks from assessment to completion of works. The portal immediately cuts that by four weeks, and is expected to speed things up further, as it streamlines the process and allows surveyors to handle more DFG projects.
The prototype was first developed by Foundations’ director Paul Smith while he was working at Cannock Chase District Council, when it won a Home Improvements Innovations and Achievement Award.
How the portal works: a step-by-step guide
1. Schedule of standard works
items is produced for standard adaptations
2. Local builders submit prices for each item
3. Surveyor inputs quantities for each job
4. System generates instant quotes from every contractor
5. Surveyor chooses successful quote, creating instant email to contractor
6. Contractor completes job and can take photos of the work and upload them to the portal for the surveyor to view
You can see a video that describes how the DFG Tenders – Home Adaptation Portal works on the Foundations website here (link will open in a new browser window)