Housing Assistance Policy
Appendix 1: Disabled Facilities Grant (Part 3-8)
3. Priority for grants
The Council will maintain an enquiry list of all Occupational Therapist referrals. These shall be prioritised by the Occupational Therapist as either High priority or Standard priority.
Not all referrals, whether high or standard priority, will get a grant. The national legislation is clear and sets "test of resources" eligibility criteria for the people applying for the grant.
A person will only be accepted on the "waiting" list when the nationally set "test of resources" has been undertaken and the person meets the criteria and this Policy requirements.
All cases will be processed by priority and in date order of request when sufficient resources are available to the Council to approve the grants.
In order to prevent Standard Priority enquiries being delayed for long periods before processing when resources are limited the Council may consider allocating a percentage of the annual budget for Disabled Facilities Grants to the Standard Priority cases.
4. Housing Associations
Most Housing Associations have their own adaptation policies and set aside finances for works that are needed for their tenants, to assist them to remain in their own homes as set out in their policies. Where an application request is received by a Housing Association tenant the Council will discuss this with their Landlord (i.e. the relevant Housing Association) in the first instance.
As resources are finite Housing Associations will be requested as part of this policy to provide a financial contribution towards the cost of the works in their homes, this will be in discussion with each Housing Association on a case by case basis, and for work that the Association would not carry out as part of their own existing policy arrangements.
5. Grant approval
On receipt of a recommendation from the Occupational Therapy Service applicants will be requested to undertake a preliminary test of resources as soon as possible.
The results of the preliminary test of resources will be notified to the applicant so that they may decide whether or not to continue with an application or fund the works themselves.
When funds are available to the Council an Officer will prepare a schedule of works and a plan for the recommended adaptation and issue this together with all the necessary application forms and other documents to enable a person to submit a complete application. Officers will compare costs of standard items with neighbouring authorities and produce a schedule of reasonable costs, including any contingency and agency costs/fees. This will be updated annually, to ensure value for money.
Applicants will prepare their own plans for the works and obtain a minimum of 2 quotations for work under £10,000 and 3 quotations for works in excess of £10,000 from separate contractors. They will also obtain proof of their ownership of the property or the agreement of the owner to the works.
The Council's policy allows Registered Social Housing providers to access their framework agreements where applicable. This would mean that where a framework agreement is used the Council will accept 1 quotation (in accordance with the terms of the Framework agreement) for the disabled adaptation work when approving the disabled facility grant.
The applicant may obtain assistance in the preparation of their application from a Home Improvement Agency or other agent, surveyor or architect. The reasonable amount of the fees for such work will be included in the grant approved. The level of fees to be grant aided shall be determined by the Council and will not normally exceed 10% of the cost of the scheme of works.
If the disabled person is the tenant of a private landlord or Housing Association, the landlord/owner must give permission for the work to be carried out. Fixed items such as level access showers will usually become the property of the owner. Removable items that have been provided through Lancashire County Council schemes will normally be signed over to County to maintain and own.
When a complete application has been received the Council is legally required to issue a decision within 6 months. We will aim to issue a decision within 3 months subject to funding being available. Where funds are not available the customer will be advised of the approximate time before the grant can be approved
When the grant is approved the applicant will be responsible for ordering commencement of the works and supervising the contractors on site. They may employ an agent to do this on their behalf.
Customers will be required to obtain all the required certificates and guarantees from their contractor and ensure that the work and goods are guaranteed in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
6. Discretionary Grant for DFG works
The existing upper limit of £30k for major disabled adaptations is set by national government and is the mandatory limit for all local authorities, since this limit was introduced there has been significant building cost increases over the years which may result in adaption work unable to be completed due to financial circumstance.
To help residents carry out the required adaptation work for those who meet all the criteria set out below, the council may provide a discretionary grant to top up the £30k
- The top-up will be up to a maximum of £10,000.
- The grant will only be available for work identified and approved by the Occupational Therapist based on the plan and specification provided by the council.
- This top up will not be provided where the applicant chooses not to use the council's and Occupational Therapist's specifications and instead opts for works based on their own plans.
- The additional £10,000 can only be accessed where the full £30,000 of mandatory grant has been utilised.
- The discretionary top up grant will be registered as a land charge on owner occupied properties in the event the property is sold within a 10-year period.
- The top up grant will be subject to an affordability check and will be offered to those who cannot meet the costs above the national grant maximum of £30k.
- The availability of the top-up grant is at the discretion of the Council and subject to availability of funding.
7. General Grant Conditions
The following is a summary of general conditions that apply in relation to all DFG approvals.
1. The grant will normally be paid to the contractor or person carrying out the works or providing the services rather than the grant applicant
2. Eligible works must be completed to the Council's satisfaction before payment
3. Eligible works must be completed within 12 months of the date of the grant approval
4. The works must be carried out by one of the contractors that submitted an estimate for the works unless agreed by the Council that another may complete the works
5. An acceptable invoice or receipt must be provided for the works
6. The works may not be carried out by the applicant or a member of their family
7. The works must be carried out in accordance with the plans and specifications approved by the Council
8. At the date of completion the grant applicant must remain eligible for grant
9. The Council may recalculate the amount of grant, refuse to pay the grant or demand repayment of any grant as appropriate where:-
a. The amount of approved grant was based on inaccurate or incomplete information
b. The eligible works commenced before the date of approval
c. The eligible works are not completed within 12 months of the date of approval
d. The eligible works are not carried out by one of the contractors who submitted an estimate for the works without the agreement of the Council
e. The final costs of the eligible works and any ancillary or preliminary services or charges is or is likely to be lower than the estimated expense
f. At the time of the approval of the application any grant applicant was not entitled to a grant
g. Eligible works have commenced and the grant applicant dies before works are completed.
8. Performance and Review
Monthly meetings will be held between Council officers, Housing Associations and LCC to monitor progress and activity in relation to Disabled Facilities Grants, review priority assessments, the waiting list, policy and processes in the Borough.
Financial monitoring will be undertaken on all grant cases to ensure that the value of grants approved does not exceed the funding available and that all funds are committed.
The Senior Strategic Housing officer will review the policy in 2025 or sooner should legislation and government guidance require it.