All local authorities have Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) schemes for adaptations that cost over £1,000. Adults and children can be eligible for a DFG, but they are means-tested for adults. A DFG is paid as the work is done or after it is finished. You cannot get one for work that has already started.
Most local authorities also have a budget to pay for small changes to your home that cost under £1,000. These are not means-tested (based on your savings or income).
Housing associations manage adaptations in different ways. Ask your housing association what their policy is.
There are local charities that can pay for some adaptations if you find it hard to get support from your local authority.
If your adaptations are eligible for VAT relief, make sure that your builders are not charging VAT.
Local authorities and small adaptations
Most local authorities will pay for small assessments that cost under £1,000 if they decide that you need it and you are eligible.
These adaptations are usually not means-tested. There may be a waiting list. Some local authorities are faster than others.
Warning Ask about small grants
If you need a small adaptation, ask the local authority if they can fund this for you. Sometimes local authorities will pay for smaller adaptations if you ask. These could include things like grab rails that make it easier for you to get in and out of the bath.
Ask about small grants even if:
you cannot find information about small grants on your local authority’s website
your local authority gives you information about how to pay for small adaptations yourself
Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)
A DFG is means-tested. All local authorities run a DFG scheme. Often, they will use them for adaptations that cost more than £1,000.
Depending on your income and savings, the grant could cover up to 100% of the cost of adapting your home.
You can get:
up to £30,000 in England
up to £36,000 in Wales
Sometimes local authorities will pay more to meet your needs if it saves them money in the long run.
For example, an extension for a wet room or extra bedroom could be cheaper than moving a young disabled person out of their family home into residential care.
Warning Do not start the building work before you apply
You cannot get a DFG for work that has already started.
Building work done by relatives
Your local authority may allow this but the grant will only pay for building materials. Keep copies of the receipts.
Means-testing and ‘household income'
This will look at your household income and savings over £6,000. Savings includes ISAs and Premium Bonds.
If you are receiving another means-tested benefit, the grant will probably cover the whole cost. If you are not, your local authority may ask you to pay for some or all of the cost.
Local authorities calculate ‘household income’ in different ways. They should not include disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
For example, your local authority might not include the money that you spend on the extra costs of being disabled in your household income. Local authorities have different rules about what they count as an extra cost.
You might spend £1,000 on:
paying for social care
the extra cost of heating your home, because your condition means that you spend more time there
If your local authority agrees these are extra costs, they would not count this £1,000 as part of your household income. If you received £16,000 that year, your household income for means-testing would be £15,000.
For major work, it’s advisable to involve a qualified architect or surveyor. Their fees can be included in the cost of the work needed.
You will need at least 2 estimates.
You must submit your grant application and related documents.
The local authority must give a decision within 6 months and tell you what your financial contribution, if any, will be.
Check the policies and procedures for your housing association as these vary.
Your association may act like a private landlord. They may ask you to apply to the local authority for a DFG on your own or with their support.
Some associations have their own funds for larger adaptations. This would mean that you would not apply to your local authority for a DFG.