We aim to try to inform and explain some of your rights as a disabled person here. If you have an issue and you’re unsure of your rights, we’re here to help. Please contact us for help and advice.
Disabled Facility Grant (DFG)
It can fund different projects, both small and large. Each project is individually considered and funding is based on the needs it will meet.
It can be used to make essential areas more accessible…
- installing a walk-in shower,
- putting in a chair lift to give external or internal access,
- making lighting/ heating controls more accessible,
- putting in a stair lift,
- widening door frames,
- making a kitchen more accessible,
- adding access to a garden…
Or to improve comfort and well-being, such as improving heating or electrics, or putting in a “wash and dry” (bidet style) toilet.
The funding applied to a project depends on the individual needs. In Dudley, a plan is developed in concert with an Occupational Therapist. At one time, there was a policy that “Wetrooms cost £5k, Stairlifts cost £2500” (for example) but now the needs being met will drive the funding the project attracts.
- People aged 18+
- The disabled person must live in the property
- Any grant is means tested (depends on Council guidelines)
- Homeowners – if the home is jointly owned, all owners must agree, in writing.
- Council/HA Tenants – (note that a DFG may impact your right to purchase your home from the Council)- with written permission of the manager of the housing scheme/ department.
- Private tenants - the property owner or managing agent must agree, in writing, that the work can be carried out.
- note - you must complete a certificate which states that you will be living in the property for at least five years after the work has been completed, unless you’re unable to due to health problems.
- Assessed needs can be reasonably met by alterations to the property (bearing in mind the stipulations of the Islington Decision).
- If you are the carer or supporter of a disabled person, you may be able to apply on their behalf.
In 2020, a decision (McKeown v Islington Council) confirmed that the Council *cannot* say “We think you should be rehomed instead because it would make more sense…”. The “Islington Decision” sets out that the priority should be people’s right to stay in their home, and that if a person wants to stay in the home, then the Council *must* consider the homeowner’s preferences and work to meet their needs.
There are some exceptions- the home must structurally be able to be altered, the changes have to make sense to meet the identified needs, the changes need to meet health and safety guidelines… those kinds of things. Any changes have to meet building regulations.
The Council must agree that the work is needed to meet your needs, that your property is in good enough condition, and the work is “reasonable”. In this case, “reasonable” means the changes are appropriate to meet your needs. Because of the Islington Decision, it doesn’t mean it’s okay for something to be considered unreasonable because someone thinks it would just be “easier” for you to move.
For example, if someone is in a bed upstairs and never comes downstairs at all, making a garden accessible might not be “reasonable”. However, it would be reasonable to ask for help establishing a means to get safely downstairs, or a downstairs bedroom and accessible toilet, if that would help the person have a better, happier, and more fulfilling life: garden access might be considered as part of a project like that. The needs would still have to be assessed, but the person’s preferences must be considered.
Dudley Council’s policies take the “Islington Decision” into account. The Home Improvement Agency (HIA) of the council will work with people to understand their wants and needs, and to keep them at home when that is what the person wants (as long as it’s possible to do that, within constraints of your home, your needs, and the work that needs to be done). If they make a decision you don’t agree with, you can appeal.
The amount of money depends on what the needs are. Sometimes, people might be asked to contribute towards the project- it depends on not only the resources people have, but the choices they make.
For example, if you had a wall moved to make a corridor wider and this meant the flooring needed to be done, you might be offered a certain type of flooring. Say you wanted a different flooring which was more expensive. You would be asked to pay the difference. This is called “a preferred option”.
A DFG can represent a big investment in your home, so, if you sell or leave your property, you might need to pay part of the cost of the work back (you would be informed of this, and the amount, in advance).
If you had a DFG previously, but your needs have changed, you may be eligible for additional funding but there are conditions: you need to ask.
You can choose to have the Council do the work or seek your own contractor but if you seek your own contractor there may be additional terms and conditions you must meet. You also need multiple bids for the work and to fill out the grant application on your own.
The Contractors used by the Council have all been vetted and frequently do the kind of work common in DFG-related projects. They regularly work with the Technical Officers who plan and supervise the work, so people may find things easier when the Council manages the project. Ultimately however, it is your choice.
You can get funding for a family member to do work, but usually only materials (not labour) will be funded.
If you feel that you or someone in your home needs changes to their home to make it more accessible, you should contact Social Services and ask for an Occupational Therapy assessment. You can also contact Dudley’s Home Improvement Agency.
You can choose to use a private Occupational Therapist, and get your costs refunded if you are approved for a grant (but speak to the Council first).
The Occupational Therapist will start with a visit to your home and talk to you about what you think you need… they will assess you, your home, and make recommendations. If you disagree with their decisions, you can appeal.
Once your needs are determined, and there is a plan for what will help, it goes to “Panel”- this panel of experts from the Council will consider the plan and your needs, and they will approve the plan, require changes or additional information, or deny the plan. Once approved, your plan will be used to apply for the DFG- but, if you are going through the Council, they can complete this for you.
The application can be quite long, so, having help is a good thing.
If you feel you need improvements to make your home more accessible, but you are denied a DFG, or the plan the Council offers isn’t satisfactory to you, there is an appeal process.
A couple of details:
- Building work requires planning permission, even if the work is within “allowable development”. Work cannot start until planning permission is granted.
- If work involves a party wall (e.g., a wall shared by another property) there is a period of notice required before work can start.
- If you are going forward on your own, you still have to wait until the DFG is approved.
- There can be unexpected expenses or problems, especially if the work is complex. If you manage the project on your own, this could cause delays as any additional support would need to be approved.
- If you own your home, you may have to repay some of the grant if you move/ sell your home within 10 years.
Dudley Home Improvement Service (HIA)
“Our home improvement service offers a range of support and services to Dudley borough homeowners.
Our aim is to enable residents to live independently in warm safe, secure, and well-maintained homes.
“Our services include Disabled Facilities grants to carry out adaptations, repayable grants to carry out urgent repairs and provide advice and support for residents struggling to afford their energy bills or struggling to stay warm and healthy in an affordable way.”
The leading resource for Disabled Facilities Grants and Home Improvement Agencies in England.