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Getting help to adapt your home

The person you are caring for may be able to get a grant to help with the cost of repairing, improving or adapting their home or you may be able to get a grant for your own home if the person you are caring for lives with you. Grants do not necessarily cover the full cost of the work done.


There are slightly different arrangements for housing grants in different parts of the country:

You can get help and advice from the Carers National Association CarersLine on 0808 808 7777 or:

  • a Citizens Advice Bureau
  • a disablement association
  • an Age Concern branch
  • a carers project
  • the housing department or social services department of your local council (or Grants Office in Northern Ireland)

These should all be listed in the phone book. If you can’t find the phone number ask at your local library or council offices.

A home improvement agency can give you specific help and advice on applying for a grant including:

  • identifying what works need to be carried out

  • completing the application form
  • choosing a good builder
  • ensuring that the works are carried out properly.

You can find out whether there is a home improvement agency in your area by contacting Care and Repair:

England
Care and Repair
Castle House
Kirtley Drive
Nottingham
NG7 1LD

Tel: 0115 979 9091

Northern Ireland
First Floor
11, Lower Crescent
Belfast BT7 1NR
Tel: 02890 439843
Fax 02890 329299

Scotland
91, Mitchell Street
Glasgow G1 3LN

Tel.0141 221 9141
Fax 0141 221 9140

Wales
River House
Ynysbridge Court
Gwaelod y Garth
Cardiff CF 15 9SS

Tel.029 20 811370
Fax 029 20 811575

There are three different types of grant in England and Wales:

  • renovation grants

  • disabled facilities grants
  • home repair assistance.

What you have to do to apply is the same for all three kinds of grant and is summarised below.

Contact your local council

This is usually based in the housing department or the environmental health department. Ask for an application form to fill in. Applications must include:

  • details of the property
  • details of the works required.

You will also need to complete either an owner-occupier’s certificate stating that the applicant or a member of their family will live in the property for the next five years, or a tenant’s certificate and a landlord’s certificate. The council supplies these certificates with the application form.

 If you're not happy

If you apply for a grant and you’re not happy either with the service you have received or with any decisions made, you can complain. You should do this in writing. If you are still not satisfied, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman at:

London
21 Queen Anne’s Gate
London
SW1H 9BU

Tel: 020 7915 3210

Coventry
The Oaks No 2
Westwood Way
Westwood Business Park
Coventry CV4 8JB

Tel: 024 7669 5999

York
Beverley House
17 Shipton Road
York
Y03 6FZ

Tel: 01904 663200

Cardiff
Derwen House
Court Road
Bridgend
CF31 1BN

Tel: 01656 661325

Belfast
33 Wellington Place
Belfast
BT1 6HN

Tel: 028 9023 3821

Edinburgh
23 Walker Street

Tel: 0131 225 5300


Renovation grants

Renovation grants can be given by a local council for large-scale repairs, improvements and adaptations. Grants are awarded on the basis of a person’s income and savings.


Different local authorities will have different priorities for who can get a grant, but each council should publish its priorities. There is no maximum amount that can be awarded. Work must not start before the grant has been awarded.

Who is eligible?
To get a renovation grant, you must:

  • be an owner-occupier or private tenant with an obligation to carry out the works
  • have occupied the property for at least three years before you apply for the grant, unless:
    • the property is in a ‘renewal area’
    • the council allows an application to be made sooner than this
    • the work is for fire precautions
    • the work is to convert a property.
    • The property must be at least ten years old when the application is made.

What can you get a grant for?
A renovation grant can be awarded for the following:

  • to bring a property up to the legal standard for human habitation (see below)
  • to bring a property up to a standard of reasonable repair
  • to provide thermal insulation
  • to provide facilities for space heating
  • to improve the internal arrangements within a property
  • to provide a fire escape or other fire precautions
  • to improve the construction or physical condition of a property
  • to improve the services or amenities within a property
  • to convert an existing property.

Unfit for human habitation
A house is considered to be unfit to live in unless it:

  • is structurally stable
  • is free from serious disrepair
  • is free from dampness prejudicial to the person’s health
  • has adequate provisions for natural and artificial light, heat and ventilation
  • has satisfactory facilities for cooking and preparing food
  • has a suitably located toilet, bath or shower and wash hand basin for exclusive use of the occupiers
  •  has an effective drainage system.

Before approving an application for a grant, the local council must decide that repairing the property is the most satisfactory course of action to take.

How are the grants worked out?
The amount of grant is worked out by means-testing. This means that the amount of grant depends on the income and savings of the person making the application, together with the income and savings of anyone else who is entitled to apply for the grant and who lives or intends to live in the property. If the application is made on behalf of a child under 18 years old, the amount of grant depends on the income and savings of the parent.

What are the conditions?
If a grant is approved, the work should normally be carried out within 12 months by one of the contractors who supplied estimates for the work.

A grant may have to be repaid if the property is sold by the grant applicant within five years of receiving the grant. Grants do not normally have to be repaid if the person getting the grant dies within that period. If the person applying for a grant dies before the work is finished, the local authority may still pay the grant to meet the cost of the work.

Disabled facilities grants

Disabled facilities grants are designed to help make the home of a disabled person more suitable and to help the person manage more independently. People who are registered (or registerable) as disabled or their carers can apply. As with renovation grants, disabled facilities grants are awarded on the basis of a person’s income and savings. There is a maximum amount that can be awarded. Work must not start before the grant has been awarded.

Who is eligible?
To be eligible for a disabled facilities grant you must be one of these:

  • an owner-occupier
  • a private tenant
  • a private landlord of disabled tenant(s)
  • a council tenant
  • a housing association tenant.

Before a decision is made, the council must be satisfied that the proposed work is reasonable and practicable, taking into account the age and condition of the property. It must also be satisfied that the work is necessary and appropriate for the disabled person. It must consult with the local social services department about this. This usually involves the local social services department arranging for an occupational therapist to visit the person applying for a grant to make an assessment of their needs.

What can you get a grant for?
Disabled facilities grants can either be mandatory or discretionary.


Mandatory disabled facilities grants
Mandatory means that the council must award a grant if the person qualifies. You can get a mandatory disabled facilities grant for:

  • improving access in and out of the property
  • making the property safe for the disabled person and others who live there
  • improving access to a room used or usable as the principal family room
  • facilitating preparation or cooking of food by the disabled occupant
  • improving access to or providing a room used or usable for sleeping in
  • improving access to or providinga bathroom or toilet
  • improving access and movement around the home to enable the disabled person to care for someone dependent on them, who also lives there
  • improving use of a source of power, light or heat.

The maximum value of a mandatory grant is £20,000 in England and £24,000 in Wales. If the work costs more than the maximum, the council may pay the extra as a discretionary disabled facilities grant (see below).

The council can delay payment of a mandatory disabled facilities grant (or part of it) for up to 12 months from the date of the application.

Discretionary disabled facilities grants
Discretionary means that the council can decide whether or not to award a grant. Different local authorities will have different priorities for who can get a grant, but each council should publish its priorities. Discretionary disabled facilities grants are awarded to make the property more suitable for the accommodation, welfare or employment of the disabled person. A discretionary grant can also be given to top up a mandatory grant if the cost of the work is above the maximum.

How are the grants worked out?
Disabled facilities grants are also worked out by means-testing .The disabled person’s income and savings (and those of their partner if they have one) will be taken into account. If the disabled person is less than 18 years old, the means test applies to the parents.

If an application for a disabled facilities grant is approved but the situation changes before the work is finished, the council must take into account all the circumstances and then take such action as appears to them to be appropriate. For example, if the disabled person moves to other accommodation, or dies, or the work becomes unnecessary or inappropriate, the council may decide that:

  • no further grant can be paid
  • no further instalments of grant can be paid
  • the work should be completed
  • some of the work should be completed and the grant should continue to be paid
  • the application should be reviewed.

Equipment and minor adaptations
Local authorities have a duty to provide any additional facilities which they consider to be ‘necessary for the greater comfort and convenience of the disabled person’. This might include equipment and minor adaptations such as handrails, grab rails and ramps. This kind of help might be available without applying for a disabled facilities grant or if a disabled facilities grant is refused. Contact the occupational therapist at the local social services department for more information.

Home repair assistance

Home repair assistance is available for small but essential repairs, improvements or adaptations. Assistance can be in the form of cash or materials or both. There is a maximum amount that can be awarded. Work must not start before the grant has been awarded.
Home repair assistance is discretionary which means that the local council can decide whether or not to give it. Different local authorities will have different priorities for who can get a grant, but each council should publish its priorities.

Who is eligible?
To get home repair assistance, you must:

  • be aged 18 or over.
  • live in the property as your only or main residence, or be applying for assistance for the benefit of a person who is aged 60 or over, or disabled, or infirm.
  • be an owner-occupier or private tenant or have a right of exclusive occupation of the property for at least five years.
  • have a power or duty to carry out the building works.
  • be getting at least one of the following benefits:
      • Income Support
      • Family Credit
      • Housing Benefit
      • Council Tax Benefit
      • Disability Working Allowance

This does not apply if you are aged 60 or over, disabled or infirm or care for someone who is in one of these three categories. If you are not an owner-occupier or tenant but you have a right of exclusive occupation of the property, you must have lived in the property for at least three years before you apply for home repair assistance, unless:

  • the work is for fire precautions
  • the work is to enable someone who is aged 60 or over, or infirm, or disabled to be cared for the property is in a ‘renewal area’.
  • Home repair assistance is also available to some occupiers of mobile homes and houseboats.

What can you get a grant for?
There is no restriction on the type of repairs, improvements or adaptations which can be funded by home repair assistance.

Assistance can be in the form of cash or materials or both. There is a maximum of £2,000 per grant and £4,000 over any three-year period.

CNA has booklets on Benefits, Disability Living Allowance/Attendance, Support aids and equipment. Call the CarersLine on 0808 808 7777 for your free copy.


Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, there are also three different types of grant but the rules for getting them are slightly different. They are:

  • renovation grants
  • disabled facilities grants
  • minor works assistance.

How to apply for a grant

To apply for a grant, ask your local Grants Office for a Preliminary Enquiry Form. Complete the form and return it to the Grants Office. Grants offices are at the following addresses:

Belfast
32-36 Great Victoria Street
Belfast BT2 7BA

Tel: 028 9031 7000
Tel: 028 9182 0600

Newtownards
Strangford House
28 Court Street
Newtownards
BT23 7NX

Craigavon
Marlborough House
Central Way
Craigavon
BT64 1AJ

Lisburn
4-6 Graham Gardens,
Lisburn
BT28 1XE

Tel: 028 9266 5222
Tel: 028 3834 1188

Ballymena
Twickenham House
Mount Street
Ballymena
BT43 6BP

Newry
35-45 Boat Street
Newry
BT34 2DB

Tel: 01693 67331
Tel: 028 2565 3399

Londonderry
Richmond Chambers
The Diamond
Londonderry
BT48 6QP

Ballyclare
141 Mill Road
Ballyclare
BT39 9DZ
Tel: 019603 52849
Tel: 028 7137 2000

Omagh
McAllister House
Woodside Avenue
Omagh
BT79 7BP

Tel: 028 8224 6111

Fermanagh
Riverview House
Head Street
Enniskillen BT74 7DA

Tel: 01365 32577016

Getting advice

If you wish to discuss the Grants Scheme generally you can contact the local Grants Office. They will be pleased to answer your questions. For older applicants or applicants with special needs who might have difficulty in dealing with solicitors, contractors, architects etc, the Executive has made arrangements with some groups outside the Executive to help as much as possible. Details are available from the local Grants Office.

If you’re not happy

If you apply for a grant and you’re not happy with any decisions made, you can complain to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Commissioner for Complaints at:

33 Wellington Place,
Belfast BT1 6HN

Tel: 028 9023 3821

Renovation grants

Renovation grants are given by the Housing Executive to improve ‘substandard’ homes. Typical works may include damp treatment, roof replacement, replacement of chimneys, gutters, plaster work etc. Anyone who gets a renovation grant must:

  • use a contractor who is a member of a Registered Warranted Builders Scheme
  • undertake to occupy the home as their only or main residence for one year, or in the case of a landlord to make the house available for letting for five years
  • not start work before the Executive has given its approval.

Who is eligible?
You can apply for a grant if you own or intend to buy a house or flat, whether alone or jointly with others. If you are a tenant and you are also responsible for repairing the house you can also apply.
A renovation grant may be available if the home is:

  • at least ten years old
  • not included in a redevelopment or clearance area and will not be included in one within the next 12 months
  • not included as part of a Group Repair scheme and will not be part of one within the next 12 months.

What can you get a grant for?
Renovation grants can either be mandatory or discretionary.

Mandatory renovation grants

Mandatory means that the Executive has to award the grant. A mandatory grant may be awarded if the Executive considers the home to be ‘unfit for human habitation’ and there are ‘serious defects’ eg no inside toilet. Additional items of work can also be included if the Executive has sufficient funds.

Discretionary renovation grants
Discretionary means that the Executive can decide whether or not to award a grant. This may depend on whether the Executive has adequate funds. A discretionary grant may be awarded if the Executive considers the home to be ‘fit for human habitation’ but improvements or repairs of a less urgent nature are needed to bring it up to a very high standard or for example to convert a building into housing units.

How are the grants worked out?
The Executive will do a means test to assess the applicant’s ability to pay a share of the cost of the works. It will then make up the difference between the cost of the approved works and the applicant’s contribution. The Executive also takes into account the income of other joint owners/tenants who live in the home.

How long does it take to process an application?
The Executive aims to process applications as quickly as possible. It must let the applicant know within six months of the formal application whether the application has been approved or not.

When is the grant paid?
Once the work has been completed satisfactorily, the Executive needs a contractor’s receipted account and the grant can then be paid. Applicants can, however, apply for interim payments up to a maximum of four including the final payments. These are available at the discretion of the Grants Manager.

Disabled facilities grants

Disabled facilities grants are given by the Housing Executive to make the home of a person with a disability suitable for his or her needs on  the recommendation of a local occupational therapist.
The work must be both necessary and appropriate to meet the needs of the person with a disability and reasonable and practicable given the age and condition of the property.

Who is eligible?
Owner occupiers, landlords or tenants (excluding Housing Executive tenants) can apply providing there is normally a person with a disability living in the home.

What can you get a grant for?
Disabled facilities grants can either be mandatory or discretionary.

Mandatory disabled facilities grants
Mandatory means that the Executive has to award the grant. A mandatory grant will normally be awarded if a local occupational therapist recommends that the work is done. Typical work may include:

  • making access to the bathroom, living room or bedroom easier
  • providing bathroom facilities
  • making the preparation and cooking of food easier eg by
  • enlarging the kitchen or providing low level units
  • adapting lighting or heating controls
  • improving the heating system.

Discretionary disabled facilities grants
Discretionary means that the Executive can decide whether or not to award a grant. This may depend on whether the Executive has adequate funds. A discretionary grant may be awarded for work designed to make a home suitable for the accommodation, welfare or employment of the person with a disability.

How are the grants worked out?
The Executive will do a means test to assess the applicant’s ability to pay a share of the cost of the works. It will then make up the difference between the cost of the approved works and the applicant’s contribution. The Executive also takes into account the income of other joint owners or tenants who live in the home.

How long does it take to process an application?
The Executive aims to process applications as quickly as possible.

Minor works assistance

Minor works assistance is given by the Housing Executive to carry out small scale repairs, improvements and adaptations to the property to make the person living there more comfortable.

Who is eligible?
Owner occupiers or tenants (excluding Housing Executive tenants) can apply providing they receive at least one of the following income-related benefits: income support, family credit, housing benefit or Disablity Working Allowance

What can you get a grant for?

There are six different types of assistance depending on the circumstances.

Staying put
This is available to owners and tenants aged 60 years or over who are on an income-related benefit (see above). The property should be in good condition. Typical work might be windows, doors, gutters, chimneys, and minor adaptations such as handrails, ramps, or an additional bath, toilet or wash hand basin etc.

Elderly resident adaptation
This is available for minor alterations to the home of someone who has an elderly relative or friend to live with them permanently. The applicant must be receiving an income-related benefit (see above). Typical work might be handrails, ramps, wash hand basin or shower.

Patch and mend
This is available for someone whose home is in a redevelopment or clearance area (or will be soon) and who receives an income-related benefit. The intention is to make the home as comfortable as possible until the person is rehoused.

Disabled adaptations grant
This is available for people who receive an income-related benefit for minor work recommended by an occupational therapist. The Executive can contact an occupational therapist if necessary.
Typical work includes improving access around the house to make preparation and cooking of food easier, and improving use of a source of heating or lighting.

Lead pipes
People who receive an income-related benefit who have a lead water supply pipe from the mains may be awarded a grant to replace the lead.

How much do you get?
The maximum amount is usually £1,080 at any one time and the cost of the works must not usually go over this. Over a three-year period a maximum of £3,240 can be awarded.

How long does it take to process an application?
The Executive aims to process applications as quickly as possible. They would normally hope to give the go ahead for work within three months of the application.

Housing Executive

Headquarters
The Housing Centre
2 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8PB

Tel: 028 9024 0588

Regional offices
Belfast
32-36 Great Victoria Street
Belfast BT2 7BA

Tel: 028 9031 7000

South-East
Strangford House
28 Court Street
Newtownards BT23 7NX

Tel: 028 9182 0600

South
Marlborough House
Central Way
Craigavon
Tel:028 3834 1188

North-East
1 Wickenham House
Mount Street
Ballymena BT43 6BP

Tel: 028 2565 3399

West
Richmond Chambers
The Diamond
Londonderry BT48 6PE

Tel: 028 7137 2000

Housing associations

To find out more about local housing associations, contact

Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations
Carlisle Memorial Centre
88 Clifton Street
Belfast BT13 lAR

Tel: 028 9023 0446

Housing Rights Service
72 North Street
Belfast BT1 1LD

028 9024 5640

Scotland

In Scotland, there are three types of grant for owner occupiers. They are:

  • improvement grants
  • repairs grants
  • Care and Repair grants

These grants are not available to tenants.

Both grants are administered by the housing department of the local council. Different councils have different priorities for work which can be grant-assisted. There is no national means test although a number of local councils operate local systems designed to ensure that grants are awarded to those in greatest need.

For further information contact the local council housing department (private sector grants section). The Scottish Care and Repair office will also be able to give advice:

Care and Repair Scotland
53 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 6TS Tel: 0141 248 7177.

If you’re not happy

If you apply for a grant and you’re not happy either with the service you have received or with any decisions they have made, you can complain. You should do this in writing. If you are still not satisfied, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman at:

23 Walker Street ,
Edinburgh EH3 7HX

Tel: 0131 225 5300

Improvement grants

Improvement grants are for large-scale improvements or adaptations. They are basically the equivalent of renovation grants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The standard ‘approved expense limit’ is £12,600. The normal rate of grant support is 75% of approved costs and so the maximum that can normally be awarded is £9,450. However, a council can increase the rate of grant support to 90% if it is satisfied that the owner occupier faces financial hardship in funding the works. It can also make a case to the Scottish Office to go over the £12,600 limit. If this is approved, the council can then give a 75% or a maximum 90% contribution towards this ‘enhanced’ cost.

Repair grants

Repair grants are for smaller scale repairs. The rate of grant support is set at 50% and the approved expense limit is £5,500 so the maximum that can normally be awarded is £2,750.

Care and Repair grants

Care and Repair can offer small grants to help elderly and disabled owner-occupiers stay in their own homes. Applicants are means-tested.

Other ways of raising money

If someone doesn’t qualify for a grant or the grant doesn’t cover the full costs of the work, there are other ways of raising the money for repairs and adaptations, including:

  • help from the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme
  • raising a loan using your home as security
  • applying for help through the Social Fund
  • applying for a grant or loan from a charity or benevolent fund.

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

Help with insulation, draught proofing and other energy efficiency measures is available from the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (in England, Scotland and Wales) and the Home Insulation Scheme (in Northern Ireland). Cash grants are available for either draught-proofing or one of the following:

  • loft insulation
  • cavity wall insulation
  • heating controls.

If help with one of the above measures has been granted, applicants can also apply for help with compact fluorescent lightbulbs, hot water tank jackets and energy advice. There is a maximum grant of £315.

Grants are available to people who get one of the following benefits:

Income Support, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Family Credit, Council Tax Benefit, Disability Working Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, or Attendance Allowance.

People over 60 who do not get any of these benefits may also be able to get partial help.

For more details contact:

The Energy Action Grants Agency
PO Box 130 Newcastle upon Tyne NE99 2

Freephone: 0800 181 667.

The address is freepost so there’s no need for a stamp.

In Northern Ireland, contact your local Housing Executive.


Raising a loan using your home as security

Owner-occupiers might be able to raise a loan using their home as security. However, anyone who does this but fails to keep up the repayments could lose their home altogether. It is therefore very important to get independent advice first. Contact one of the agencies listed above.

Social Fund

The Social Fund gives loans and grants eg for people getting Income Support to help them stay in the community rather than residential care. Social Fund payments are made by local benefits agencies.
Contact one of the agencies listed above for more information.

Charities and benevolent organisations

Charities and benevolent organisations have a range of grants and loans to help pay for things that the government doesn’t fund. Most of the major charities and benevolent organisations are listed in a book called A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need. Libraries and advice centres usually have a copy.


CNA has booklets on Benefits, Money worries, Dealing with someone else’s money Call the CarersLine on 0808 808 7777 for your free copy.

VAT

Some works and goods which are needed for adaptations for disabled people are exempt from VAT. To find out which ones, contact your local Customs and Excise office and ask for VAT leaflet 701/7/94.

They can also give you advice

To avoid paying VAT, the disabled person signs a statement saying that as a disabled person they are entitled to relief from VAT. They can then give this to suppliers so that they do not add VAT to their bills.

Carers association