The purpose of a Disabled Facilities Grant is to enable disabled people to have access in and around their home.
We aim to help people with disabilities to continue to live in their own homes where this is feasible.
A Disabled Facilities Grant can help, for example, to pay for a ramp, to widen doorways or replace a bath with a shower. The grant is "means tested" and your income and savings will be taken into account to decide whether or not a grant can be paid and what level of contribution (if any) you would need to find. A member of the Adaptations team can explain about this in greater detail. You can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (or DFG) as an owner or a tenant of a property.
The process is split into eight stages:
Stage 1: Letting us know about your situation
You, or someone acting on your behalf, will need to contact the Occupational Therapy Service on 024 7683 3003 or email ASCDirect@coventry.gov.uk. They will send you a referral form that you will need to complete and return to them outlining what difficulties you are experiencing due to your disability. Upon receipt of that, if appropriate, an Occupational Therapist will visit you. You may wish to have a relative, friend or carer with you at the visit. There are a range of lifts, hoists and equipment available to meet the needs of people with disabilities and it may be that your needs can be met by some other form of assistance.
Stage 2: The Assessment
If a small scale adaptation (e.g. removal of bath out & replacement with shower or a ramp) is the most appropriate method of meeting your needs, the Occupational Therapist will make a referral to the Adaptations Team. If this is the case you will move straight to Stage 3.
In more complex cases, the Occupational Therapist will carry out a joint visit with a Home Improvement Officer to assess the options. If this is the case, they will work together to find the most cost effective solution to meet your needs. The scheme would discussed at a 'DFG Panel' meeting with Managers from Therapy Services to ensure that the scheme is 'Necessary and Appropriate' and 'Reasonable and Practical' and is the minimum adaptation necessary to meet your needs. Once this has been agreed the Occupational Therapist and the Home Improvement Officer will visit you again to discuss the proposals and ensure that you are satisfied with them.
You will need to sign to this effect before we can progress your case any further. In some cases the proposals submitted to the Panel may not be considered to be Reasonable and Practical, in which case other options will need to be considered. This may mean an alternate scheme being prepared or, if the property cannot be adapted, the grant may have to be refused. If this should happen we would explore other avenues to meet your needs, including assisting you to find alternative accommodation. If you are not happy with the proposals and you require a larger or alternative scheme to the one agreed by the Occupational Therapist, you can pay extra to fund this provided the scheme is still suitable for the disabled person's needs as determined by the Occupational Therapist.
The maximum grant that the Council will approve is £30,000 including any ancillary costs (e.g. Legal fees, Architectural fees, Building Regulations fee, etc.). It is anticipated that very few schemes should cost as much as this but you would be advised in advance of the grant approval if this were to be the case as you would need to ensure that you could fund any costs above the grant maximum. You would also need to bear in mind that unforeseen works may occur when the work is in progress that could further increase the cost. In these cases, additional grant aid may be considered, but if the grant has already reached the maximum you would need to fund this yourself.
You also need to be aware that charges are levied on all owner-occupied properties where the total cost of the grant exceeds £5,000. If the property is sold within 10 years of completion of the grant works - for any reason - funds above the £5,000 can be reclaimed and recycled back into the DFG Programme. This does not apply to grants that are less than £5,000 and the maximum amount that the Council can recover is £10,000.
Stage 3: Applying for the grant
Once it has been determined that you are eligible for an adaptation, the Occupational Therapist will give you a nomination form for you to select some contractors to be considered to carry out the work. You do not need to contact any of them at this point but you would need to return this form to the address given before a Home Improvement Officer can contact you to begin processing your application. You will need to select the contractor yourself as we cannot recommend anyone.
If you are a tenant of a Housing Association, your landlord may want us to use their own tendered contractors to carry out the work (Midland Heart and Stonewater have agreed to do this). The OT should be able to advise you about this, in which case you wouldn't need to select contractors. If you are a Whitefriars tenant, the process is slightly different because they will manage your case after the plan has been prepared. The Home Improvement Officer will advise you how this operates.
The Home Improvement Officer will assist you in the completion of forms, preparing and designing plans and drawings (if this hasn't already been done at Stage 2), preparing schedules of works, contacting your chosen contractor(s) to check if they have the necessary insurances and Health & Safety accreditation to be able to do the work, monitoring progress and arranging for inspection and payment of the relevant contractors.
They may also need to complete a 'Financial Assessment' to determine what level of contribution you would have to find. Only the income and savings/capital of the disabled person and his/her partner are taken into account (if the adaptation is for a disabled child or young person for whom child benefit is received, they will be exempt from the means test). Evidence of any income and benefits you receive will be required including pay slips, pensions, disability benefits, etc. as well as evidence of any capital and savings that you have. You will be asked for the National Insurance numbers of all the adults living in the property and you will also need to know who holds the deeds of the property (for proof of ownership purposes). If you have a contribution to pay you will need to confirm that you are prepared to fund this before the case is progressed any further. You would need to pay your contribution to the contractor when the work is finished.
Stage 4: Working Drawing stage (not applicable in all cases)
Once the financial assessment has been carried out and it has been established that you wish to proceed with your application, the Home Improvement Officer will prepare any working drawings as necessary. If this is not necessary you will move straight to Stage 5.
If you would prefer to make your own arrangements for plans to be drawn you may do so but you would be responsible for paying any architect's fees although the costs may be reimbursed once the grant has been approved and an acceptable invoice received (provided they are reasonable and the total cost of work and fees does not exceed the maximum grant). If you are having private work carried out at the same time, or a larger adaptation than recommended, the cost of this and of the plans would be additional to any contribution that you may have to find as a result of the means test.
If the adaptation involves extending the property and there are public sewers in close proximity to where the extension is planned, you may be required by the Severn Trent Water Authority to enter into a Building Over Sewer agreement. The Home Improvement Officer will be able to guide you through this process and any fees that need to be paid will again be covered by the grant. However, if the Building Over Sewer agreement is required because you have chosen an alternate scheme you would need to arrange this yourself and also fund the cost of the fees involved.
If the work involves building a wall on or close to the boundary with one or both of your neighbours you will need to ask them to sign an agreement under the Party Wall Act. The Home Improvement Officer will advise you on this but will not be able to approach the neighbours on your behalf, although you are at liberty to invite them into your property whilst the Home Improvement Officer is there so that he can explain the purpose of the agreement. Depending upon the size of the scheme, Planning Permission and/or Building Regulations approval may be required. The Home Improvement Officer will arrange this for you (again, provided this is not private work you are funding yourself), but in the case of Planning Permission you need to be aware that this can be a lengthy process and can take up to three months.
Stage 5: Estimate stage
The Council does not guarantee or warrant the standard or quality of, nor accept any responsibility for, any work undertaken by the contractors that you have chosen. The contract will be between you and them. We recommend that you choose four contractors in case any of the ones you have chosen are unavailable to carry out the work (or unable to do so because they have insufficient Insurance cover). For larger schemes the Home Improvement Officer will arrange to meet three of them at your property at separate times. The contractors will be given copies of the plans and asked to return an estimate to the Adaptations Team via email within two weeks. If the contractors do not respond within this time the Home Improvement Officer will contact them to remind them. More estimates may be required if the estimates appear to be more than we expect the work to cost. You will be kept advised if this is the case. Ultimately, the Council will approve the grant based on the lowest estimate received. If you wish to pay extra for another contractor to carry out the work you may do so, provided they meet the relevant criteria.
Some of the straightforward schemes have 'fixed-costs' attached to them and where this is the case, we would only normally ask your first choice contractor if they are prepared to carry out the work for this amount. If they are not we would move onto your next choice until an acceptable price can be agreed with them.
Stage 6: Approval of grant
Before the grant can be approved all the necessary documentation needs to be in place. This includes the completed application forms, proof of ownership, sketch plans agreed by you and the Occupational Therapist, estimate(s) and Planning Permission/Building Regulations approval (where applicable). You will then be sent an approval letter which will advise of the amount approved for your grant and of the approval expiry date. The work should be completed within twelve months of the approval date, after which time the Council has discretion to withdraw the offer of grant aid.
Before work commences the Home Improvement Officer may carry out a pre-site visit with you and the contractor. At this meeting you should be given an approximate start date and it is a good idea to ask any questions that you may have about the work at this meeting whilst the Officer and the contractor are both in attendance.
Stage 7: Work in progress
With larger schemes, the Home Improvement Officer will visit periodically to ensure that the work is being done to an acceptable standard. If there is a Building Regulations approval for the work, the Building Surveyor from the Building Regulations section will also need to visit at certain stages. If there is any genuine unforeseen work that becomes evident whilst the works are in progress, the contractor may request additional costs. Dependent upon the nature of the work, we may consider agreeing extra grant aid. However, this is not a foregone conclusion. This would need to be assessed by a Home Improvement Officer and ultimately approved by a Manager. If the adaptation is a large one, the contractor may request interim payments when a minimum of 50% of the work is complete. He will need to ask you to sign to agree any interim payments to be made.
Stage 8: Completion of grant work
When the work is complete the Occupational Therapist will be informed so they can advise on any additional equipment that may need to be ordered for you (e.g. a shower chair). Once the contractor has completed the work he will ask you to sign to say you are satisfied with the work for the payment to be made. He will send his paperwork by email to the Adaptations email address and an Officer will then need to arrange to inspect the work to ensure that it has been completed in line with the approved plans and that it is of an acceptable standard. We will then make the payment upon receipt of all the necessary documentation. If there is any contribution that you are responsible for, the contractor will usually request this amount from you upon completion of the work. The payment will not be made to the contractor until both you and the Home Improvement Officer are happy with the standard of the work. If there is a Building Regulations application the Building Control Officer will also need to carry out a completion inspection.
The contractor should send all paperwork (invoices, certificates, instruction booklets, etc.) directly to you. We recommend that you keep these in a safe place, as they may be required if and when the property is sold (but if this is the case, please be aware that the grant, or part thereof, may be reclaimed by the Council as explained in Stage 2). If you have had a shower installed, please remember to complete the warranty and send it back to the manufacturer in case any defects occur. However, if any problems occur within the first twelve months, your first point of contact would be the contractor to make sure that it is not an installation defect. If the contractor does not respond you can contact us and we will endeavour to ask them to return.