Making changes to your home can make your life easier when you are disabled or you are growing older, but it can also be expensive. However, help is available from your local council in the form of the Disabled Facilities Grant or DFG.
DFGs can be used as home stair lift grants as well as to cover a range of different adaptations.
What is a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)
The Disabled Facilities Grant is provided by local councils to help cover the costs of changes to your home that you might need to make if you are disabled or you have reduced mobility. The grant can cover a range of different alterations, including the building of ramps, changes to the lighting or heating system, and the installation of stairlifts. Stairlift grants can cover some or all of the cost of having a stairlift fitted in your home.
A DFG is only available to households that include someone with a disability. This might be you, or someone who lives with you. You can also apply for home stair lift grants on behalf of a disabled tenant if you are letting out a property that you own. In order to get a DFG for a property that you own or rent you must intend to stay at that address for at least five years. If you move before this time is up, you may be required to pay back the grant money. For grants of over £5000 this period is extended, so you could be expected to pay back up to £10,000 if you move within ten years.
The council will also need to agree that the alterations you want to make to your home are necessary, that the work can be accomplished in your property, and that the changes are suitable for your needs. You need to apply for your DFG before any work starts on your home as you may not be eligible for any money if the work has already begun. You may also need to apply separately for planning permission before you can get the work done.
Applying for a DFG
If you would like to apply for home stair lift grants, you should contact your local council. You will be directed to the relevant department, which will usually be housing or environmental health, who will provide you with an application form. You should complete the form and hand it in before any work begins on your home, otherwise you might not be eligible for the grant. If you need help filling out the paperwork for your DFA, you can get in touch with your local Home Improvement Agency.
The DFG application form will ask for some basic details, such as your name and address. You will also need to describe your reasons for seeking funding for your stair lift. You will need to explain why you need a stair lift, describe how your disability affects you on your worst days, and show that you need help with the cost of your stair lift.
The form will ask for details of your finances, which will be used to determine whether you should be given a home stair lift grant for some or all of the cost. You will need to provide details of your usual outgoings and income, along with bank statements as proof of your financial situation. You will also have to mention any savings you might have, but these shouldn't affect the decision unless you have more than £6000 saved. If the stair lift is for a disabled person under the age of 19, home stair lift grants won't be means tested.
You will also need to provide details of the changes that you intend to make to your home and the expected cost of this work. You will usually be asked to provide two written estimates from different contractors or suppliers. Any reputable builder or stair lift supplier will be happy to provide you with a free survey and estimate. A representative will visit your home to assess its suitability and to determine which type of stairlift will be right for you. If you need help finding a contractor, the council should be able to provide advice or contact details for a reliable local firm.
You can seek advice from an occupational therapist on the types of changes that are right for you. If you haven't already received professional advice, you will be referred to the social care department to be assessed by an occupational therapist to ensure that you are getting the right adaptations to meet your needs. The occupational therapist will decide whether you need help with the stairs and whether a stairlift is the right option for you. You will also get advice on any other adaptations that might be available to make your life easier and which can also be included in your grant.
Once your application has been submitted, the council will consider all of this information. They will also arrange for an environmental health officer or building surveyor to visit your home and check the feasibility of the planned changes. The application form and evidence you have provided along with the survey results will help them to decide whether you should get a stairlift grant and how much of the total cost it will cover.
Factors That Affect the DFG Decision
The council will take a range of factors into consideration when they are reviewing applications for stairlift grants. The main questions that they will be asking are:
- Is the work necessary for your wellbeing? The DFG is intended to pay for essential adaptations that are needed to help people with disabilities or limited mobility in their everyday lives. The information you provide about your disability and the opinion of the occupational therapist will help the council to decide whether you need help in your home.
- Is it the most appropriate solution for your needs? The adaptations you describe in your application should be the best option to meet your needs, as recommended by the occupational therapist. If the council believes that there is a better option available, you may need to apply for funding to cover that instead of your original plans.
- Is it reasonable and practical to carry out this work in the property? The proposed work must be suitable for your home, taking into account its age and condition. The feasibility of the project will be determined by the survey conducted by the council during the application process.
- Do you need financial help in order to carry out this work? Your financial situation will also be taken into account, unless the work is being done for someone under the age of 19. If you are a high earner or you have more than £6000 in savings, your application may be rejected. You might also be offered a smaller grant that will only cover a portion of the costs of your stair lift.
How Long Does It Take to Get a DFG?
It can take some time for the necessary assessments and surveys to be completed and for the council to reach a decision on stairlift grants. The processing time can depend on how busy the department is and whether there is a long waiting list, but you should be able to find out how long you should expect to wait when you submit your stairlift grant application.
If you need to get changes made to your home urgently you should discuss this with the relevant council department when you request your application form. Your application might be prioritised if there is an urgent need or you may be advised to seek funding through another route. If you are planning to fund your stair lift through a grant, you must wait for the decision to be made before the work begins.
You should receive a written response no more than six months after submitting your application. This should give the council's decision and explain how and when the stairlift grant will be paid. If you aren't eligible for a DFG or your application is rejected for other reasons, you may still be able to get help with the costs of your stair lift. Many charities offer stairlift grants to cover this kind of work. Your council may be able to refer you to another source of funding.
How Much is the DFG?
The size of the grant that you receive will depend on the cost of the work. The council will usually require you to get two different estimates of the cost from different suppliers to ensure that you aren't paying too much. Home stair lift grants should be able to cover the entire cost of the work if you are on a low income, but your financial situation will be taken into account when the council decides how much to give you. If your savings or income are above the test limits, you may still be given a grant, but it might not cover the entire cost of the work. However, other housing grants may also be available that can help you with the costs.
The amount that is available as a DFG can also depend on which region of the UK you live in. England, Wales and Northern Ireland place different maximum limits on the grant, which range between £25,000 and £36,000. All of these limits are much higher than the cost of installing a stairlift as they are designed to cover the extensive building work that some people with disabilities may require. The system works differently in Scotland, which doesn't provide funding in the form of a DFG.
Financial Assistance in Scotland
If you live in Scotland you can't apply for a DFG, but you may still be able to get money towards the costs of adaptations to your home, either as a loan or a housing grant. A housing grant should cover any essential work that needs to be done to meet the needs of a disabled person. The grant will cover the entire cost of the work if anyone in the household is receiving income support, the guarantee credit portion of pension credit, income based jobseeker's allowance or an income related employment allowance. However, if you don't receive any of these benefits, your grant will usually be for 80% of the total cost.
Payment of the DFG
When you receive a DFG, the grant will usually be paid in one go, after the work has been completed. In some cases, it may be paid in instalments as the work on your home progresses, but this will usually only happen if you are eligible for a larger amount to cover more extensive work. Your council may pay the contractor directly or give you a cheque to pass on. The payment process will be explained when your application is approved.
Complaints and Appeals
It is possible to appeal against the council's decision if you think it was incorrect. The council can tell you about the complaints and appeals procedures if you have any concerns. You can also approach the Local Government Ombudsmen if you feel your local council has not treated you fairly.
Find Out More About Stairlift Grants:
If you are planning to have a stair lift installed or you need help with the costs of other adaptations to your home, there are several ways to find out more about applying for a DFG.