Disabled Facilities Grants and Regulatory Reform Order Policy

What are Disabled Facilities Grants

A Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is a grant to pay for adaptations or providing facilities that the council consider essential for a disabled person in a dwelling, a houseboat or caravan, or in common parts of a building containing one or more flats. The Council will assess a person’s needs to decide if the adaptations are “necessary and appropriate” and the work must be “reasonable and practicable”

Disabled Facilities Grants are mandatory, which means that the Council must provide a grant to someone who has met the eligibility criteria. Grants are available if the applicant or someone living in their household is disabled and the applicant is the owner occupier, a tenant (private, local authority, housing association, and licensee) or landlord of the property.

DFG’s enable people to live independently in their own homes and to exercise greater choice and control over the housing they occupy. Disabled Facilities Grants play an important role in promoting housing equality and helping disabled people (including disabled children) live independently in the community. The promotion of independent living contributes to the “One Darlington, Perfectly Placed” outcomes of “more people being healthy and independent” and in “giving children the best start in life”.

What does the current DFG policy say and why does the Council want to change it?

The current policy follows the Government legislation and as such means that the maximum grant that can be awarded is £30,000. The cost of adaptations has increased since the Policy was introduced in 2014 and sometimes the £30,000 is not enough to fund the larger adaptations which people need. This means that sometimes people need to find other funding to make up the shortfall or sometimes not have the adaptation at all.

Disabled Facilities Grants are means tested, and sometimes this means that people must pay towards the cost of the adaptations. If people can’t afford to pay, then they may not be able to have the necessary adaptations made to their home.

Why does the Council need a RRO Policy?

 The Council has reviewed the DFG policy to make sure that it remains fit for purpose and that funds are being allocated as effectively as possible. The Council has been advised that it is able to use another piece of Government legislation called a Regulatory Reform Order (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) 2002, to provide extra financial assistance to people applying for DFGs and by approving the policy the Council will be able to maximize the use of the grant more effectively.  (Most Councils have also approved a RRO Policy).

By agreeing to have a RRO Policy the Council will be able to spend the government allocation more effectively.  In particular, the Council will be able to:

  • give additional grants for those adaptations which cost more than £30,000
  • waive the need for a means test for grants of less than £5,000
  • waive the need for people to pay towards the cost of the adaptations in exceptional circumstances
  • use funds to support specific housing development initiatives
  • give grants to adapt homes to facilitate hospital discharges
  • allow discretion in relation to the removal of land charges and non- recovery of the grant for large adaptations
  • give grants to enable people to move to more suitable housing where their existing home cannot easily be adapted
  • contribute to the cost of the Council’s Occupational Therapy Team to ensure that they can process application for the grant in a timely manner.

How can I make my comments?

If you would like to give your views on the revised proposed DFG and proposed RRO Policy you can email [email protected] or alternatively post your comments to;

DFG and RRO Policy Consultation
Development and Commissioning Team
Darlington Borough Council
Town Hall
Darlington
DL1 5QT