The main purpose of disabled facilities grants is to improve the dwellings of disabled people so that it is easier for them to use their properties. This may mean enabling disabled people to be more able to care for themselves or making it easier for carers to look after a disabled person. Initial contact should be made through the Social Services Department of Derbyshire County Council who will arrange for an assessment to ensure that any proposed adaptations will meet your needs.
Contact: Erewash Adult Care, Mercian Close, Ilkeston, Derbyshire DE7 8HG Telephone 01629 533190, Fax: 0115 9303058. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Good Practice Guide specifies the types of works that fall into the scheme as follows:-
Facilitating access and provision:– these include works to remove or overcome any obstacles that prevent a disabled person moving freely into and around the dwelling and enjoying its use. The presumption is that a disabled person should have reasonable access into his home, to its main habitable rooms and to the bathroom or shower room. Grants for stairlifts are given under this section.
Making a dwelling or building safe:– it is considered inappropriate to be prescriptive on the particular works that might be carried out under this section as the specification will depend on circumstances. However, they may include improving a lighting system, providing an enhanced alarm system or adapting the dwelling to minimise the risk of danger where a disabled person has behavioural problems which occasionally cause him to act in a boisterous or violent manner damaging the dwelling, himself or other people.
Room usable for sleeping:– the provision of a room usable for sleeping may be considered if the adaptation of an existing room or the access to that room is unsuitable.
Bathroom:– a disabled person should have access to a wash-hand basin, a WC and a shower or both (or if appropriate, a shower and a bath). This section may be used to provide these facilities and/or to facilitate their use.
Facilitating preparation and cooking of food:– this section allows the Council to offer disabled facilities grant to adapt kitchens to enable a disabled person to cater independently. It should be noted that where most of the cooking and preparation is done by another family member it will not normally be appropriate to carry out full adaptation of the kitchen.
Heating, lighting and power:– this section provides for the provision or improvement of a heating system to meet a disabled person’s needs. Heating will not normally be provided in rooms that the disabled person does not use and the installation of a full central heating system should only be considered where the well-being and mobility of the disabled person would otherwise be affected. In addition this section allows for the adaptation of heating, lighting and power controls to make them suitable for use by a disabled person.
Dependent residents:– disabled facilities grant may be given for works to enable a disabled occupant better access and movement around the dwelling in order to care for another person who normally resides there.
Common parts:– disabled facilities grant may be given for works to facilitate access to a dwelling through the common parts of a building.
In all cases it is necessary that the works specified in a disabled facilities grant scheme will meet the needs of the disabled person. For this reason it is essential that close liaison is maintained with the social services authority. The good Practice Guide sets out the exact roles that both Social Services and Environmental Health should take, but in general terms Social Services will determine the needs of a disabled person and Environmental Health will determine whether it is reasonable and practicable to carry out the proposed works.
In practice this means that grant applications will normally be accompanied by a certificate from Derbyshire County Council’s Social Services Department. Occasionally a certificate may be provided by another agency, such as the Disability Resource Team and in these cases it is expected that the grants officer will also liaise with Social Services.
Disabled facilities grants are available for owner-occupiers and tenants. The circumstances in which each of these groups of people may be eligible for grant are set out in the 1996 Act and the good Practice Guide. This section summarises these rules but in any situation where there is doubt as to eligibility, reference must be made to the two main documents:-
Owner-occupiers – may apply for disabled facilities grants subject to a test of financial resources. There is no prior qualification period and the property does not have to have been a dwelling for 10 years, as is the case with some discretionary renovation grants. Whilst there is no grant condition requiring repayment of the grant, an ‘owner’s certificate’ must be provided.
Tenants – may also apply for disabled facilities grants subject to the conditions above and the provision of a ‘tenant’s certificate’. In addition the landlord of the dwelling should provide an ‘owner’s certificate’ unless it is considered to be unreasonable to require him to do so.
Amount of Grant
The amount of grant offered to applicants will depend on the result of their test of financial resources calculation but is subject to a maximum of £30,000.
Occasionally applications are received from disabled people whose conditions are degenerative and in these cases it may be anticipated that further adaptations may be required in the future. The 1996 Act provides for this situation by allowing Councils to reduce the amount of an applicant’s contributions by the amount that was contributed to a previous adaptation.
This means that if the second application is made during the period of the notional loan assumed for the first application (10 years for owners and 5 years for tenants), then the amount of the second contribution should be reduced by the amount that the applicant contributed to the first adaptation. Thus if an applicant contributed £8,000 towards an adaptation and then made an application for further works towards which his contribution was £10,000, the second contribution would be reduced by the amount of the first leaving a contribution of £2,000.
Test of Resources
Applicants for disabled facilities grants are tested in a different manner to applicants for renovation grants. The full details are given in the Circular but can be summarised as follows:-
The relevant person for the purposes of a disabled facilities grant is:-
The disabled occupant for whom the works are to be undertaken; and
His/her spouse or partner; or
The parent(s) of the disabled occupant who is less than 19 years of age.
This definition of a relevant person recognises that other members of the household do not benefit from the provision of adaptations for a disabled occupant.
Grant Conditions and Repayment
Disabled facilities grants will only be provided for the main or only residence of an applicant.
Erewash Borough Council will only consider applications for mandatory Disabled Facilities Grant.
Repayment of disabled facilities grants will be required in the following circumstances:-
The grant is for a sum exceeding £5,000.
The applicant has a qualifying owner’s interest in the premises on which the relevant works were carried out.
The applicant disposes (whether by sale, assignment, transfer or other) of the premises in respect of which the grant was given within 10 years of the certified date.
The amount of repayment which will be required is that part of the grant that exceeds £5,000 subject to a maximum repayment of £10,000.
In considering whether to require repayment each case will be judged on its merits but the Council will consider the following:-
The extent to which the recipient of the grant would suffer financial hardship if required to repay all or any of the grant;
Whether the disposal of the premises is to enable the recipient of the grant to take up employment, or to change the location of his/her employment;
Whether the disposal is made for reasons connected with the physical or mental health or wellbeing of the recipient of the grant or of a disabled occupant of the premises; and
Whether the disposal is made to enable the recipient of the grant to live with, or near, any person who is disabled or infirm and in need of care, which the recipient of the grant is intending to provide, or who is intending to provide care of which the recipient of the grant is in need by reason of disability or infirmity.