Disabled Facilities Grant hand rail

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak presented his Spending Review 2020 to Parliament on 25 November 2020, determining how much the UK Government will spend on public services over the next year.

This year’s review prioritises funding to support the government’s response to COVID-19, including an additional £38 billion for public services to continue to fight the pandemic this year and a further £55 billion of support for the public services response to COVID-19 next year.

Importantly, the Spending Review 2020 includes an investment of £573 million – up from £505 million last year – in Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG), supporting people to live independently for longer.

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This represents a 13.5 percent uplift in the money local authorities will have available to deliver essential adaptations to people’s homes. The government says this will help ensure disabled people receive the support they need.

What is the Disabled Facilities Grant?

Established three decades ago, the DFG is a capital grant paid to local authorities in England that can meet, or contribute towards, the cost of adapting a person’s home to help them remain independent. The grant can be used to widen doors, install a homelift or make bathrooms more accessible with aids like grab rails.

The annual DFG budget forms part of the Better Care Fund, a pooled budget seeking to integrate health, social care and housing services.

This grant is important because it can help to reduce the need for social care services, prevent a move into a care home and enable people to leave hospital. According to Foundations, over the last 25 years, the grant has helped over 40,000 people a year to live in more accessible housing.

Who is eligible for the Disabled Facilities Grant?

An applicant must either be the owner of the dwelling or be a tenant and be able to provide to the local council the necessary ‘owner’s certificate’ or ‘tenant’s certificate’.

DFG allocations

After receiving a DFG application, the relevant council needs to check that the proposed works are necessary and appropriate to meet the disabled person’s needs. Usually, the local authority will consult an occupational therapist from the local social services department to make the assessment.

Councils also need to ensure that the proposed works are reasonable and practicable depending on the age and condition of the property.

The council need to be satisfied about each of these matters, and the overall feasibility of the works, if it is able to give a DFG. A local council can refuse a DFG if it believes the scheme is not reasonable and practicable.

The maximum grant that can be paid is £30,000 per application in England and £36,000 in Wales.

Calls for a DFG overhaul

In 2018, a 292-page external review of the DFG commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and written by the University of the West of England, Foundations, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and Ferret Information Systems, examined challenges and potential improvements for how the grant operates.

According to the review, the majority of disabled people live in ordinary housing, with only seven percent of homes in England including basic accessibility features such as level access or a downstairs toilet.

Additionally, nearly nine out of every 10 applications relate to physical disabilities and 90 percent of adaptations are for the provision of level access showers, stairlifts or ramps, with an average cost of £9,000, the paper highlighted.

Echoing these same issues surrounding the DFG, recent research from Leonard Cheshire found that delays and missed deadlines persist as demand for home adaptations through DFGs rose by 27 percent between 2015 and 2019.

By law, councils are required to approve or reject DFG applications within six months and then ensure that works are completed within 12 months. From its findings, Leonard Cheshire says that half of councils had at least one example of missing the initial six-month deadline to approve or deny completed DFG applications.

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https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/DFG.jpg?fit=1000%2C667&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/DFG.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Sarah SarsbyGovernment & Local AuthoritiesInvestments & FundingNewsroomSector NewsDFG,DFG funding,Disabled Facilities Grant,home adaptations,housing adaptations,Spending Review 2020The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak presented his Spending Review 2020 to Parliament on 25 November 2020, determining how much the UK Government will spend on public services over the next year. This year’s review prioritises funding to support the government’s response to COVID-19, including an additional £38 billion...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals