Living with a disability can be difficult, especially if your accommodation doesn’t make it easy for you to get around. Luckily, the government offers a disabled facilities grant that can be used to make changes around your home and give you more freedom and independence. One of the benefits of this grant is that it doesn’t affect any other financial support you’re receiving, so it’s a good idea to apply without delay.
Home Renovations for Better Access
Primarily, these grants for disabled access allow you to modify your home to make both your life and any carers’ lives, easier. You can have doors widened and ramps added, for example, allowing you to more easily manoeuvre a wheelchair. Stair lifts, or adding a downstairs bathroom may make your home safer and let you do more for yourself, whilst lighting and heating controls can be changed so they’re easier to use. Kitchen units could even be lowered so you’re able to access them.
Means Testing and Entitlements
The disabled facility grant process is means tested if you’re not in receipt of benefits, with administrators taking into account both your household income and any savings you have to help determine what you’re entitled to. If you receive benefits, such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, income-based Employment Support Assistance, income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit or have child or work credits and an income under £15,050 per year, it’s unlikely the means testing process will be used. In addition, children under 18 can claim a disabled facilities grant without their parents’ income affecting their entitlement.
In England, the maximum available grant is £30,000. In Wales you could get up to £36,000, whilst in Northern Ireland, up to £25,000 is available. In Scotland the disability facilities grant isn’t available and you should contact Capability Scotland for help and advice instead.
To qualify for a disabled facilities grant, there are a number of criteria you’ll need to meet. Applicants must either own the property to be changed or be a tenant. The grant period is currently five years, so you must intend on remaining in your current home throughout that time. If you’re a landlord you can apply for if you have a tenant who would benefit from the alterations.
It is vital you do not start any of the work before being awarded the grant; doing so could result in the council turning down your application. If major work is being undertaken that requires planning permission this must also be sought before work goes ahead. This cannot be done as part of the grant application but must be completed as a separate matter.
How to Apply
Applying for a disabled facilities grant is relatively straight forward but you need to have all the relevant information beforehand. This includes a report of the changes that are needed to your home. To ensure this report is complete, it’s best to contact social services and have an occupational therapist offer some guidance. You will also need to know the type of work required (whether it’s cosmetic or structural, for example), and administrators will need to know how much the work will cost.
To apply for the grant, you should use the Gov.uk website to find your local council’s website. From there you can make contact with the relevant department and begin the process.
How to Get Paid
Provided your application for a grant is successful, there are a couple of ways you can expect payment. This will differ depending on your local council, so you should seek advice from your borough so you’re sure how the money will be given to you.
It’s common that money will be paid to you in instalments. This will cover the period during the renovation, and will pay for the work as and when it’s finished. Alternatively, your council may simply pay for the whole thing when the work is completed. Some councils actually pay the contractor directly, instead of the money coming to you first. You should be told of this when your application is approved but if in doubt, it’s a good idea to ask.
To actually have the work paid for you will need to send councils an invoice or receipt for payment from the contractor. If you’re using different services for various home modifications (one company for a bathroom and another to build a ramp, for example) you should send invoices in as each project is completed. In some cases, you might have a friend or relative doing some of the work for you. In such a situation the grant will only cover the materials and services you’ve bought, and is unlikely to pay for any labour.
Enjoy More Independence with Home Modification
The disabled facilities grant is one of the best ways to pay for essential changes to your home so that life becomes easier. Because it doesn’t affect your other benefits there’s nothing to lose. If you seek the proper advice from an occupational therapist you might just discover there are alterations you could make you’d never even thought of and, once complete, could provide more independence than you believed possible.