Changes to Disabled Facilities Grant applications
Local authorities across Gloucestershire have introduced new arrangements from the beginning of August to ensure that residents will continue to obtain the support and guidance that they require when making Disabled facilities grant (DFG) applications.
This announcement follows the closure of the county-wide home improvement agency (‘Mears - Safe at Home’) at the end of July.
Councils will still be responsible for processing grant applications, with input from Occupational Therapists providing specialist clinical advice. However, rather than residents being assigned builders and project managers for home improvements (as was done through the ‘Safe at Home’ scheme) Councils will now give people more choice in this matter.
Local Councils will still ensure that specific advice is available for major adaptations and they will maintain a list of companies for this purpose.
Working together, the Councils are directing residents to a new user-friendly self-help 'Housing Grants' web page, which will provide access to a central list of builders, equipment specialists and agents who are familiar with the grant processes. Eligibility for inclusion on the central list will require either a good track record for carrying out grant-related work or acceptable references.
The Councils will continue to ensure that close support is provided to vulnerable DFG applicants, including guidance on the processes and services that can meet their particular needs.
To complement the new arrangements the District Council’s cabinet has approved the provision of discretionary disabled facilities grants of up to a further £30,000 where the cost of works is in excess of the mandatory disabled facilities grants limit (which is £30,000). The funding means that individuals with a disability will be able to have their homes adapted to ensure continued independent living in a safer environment.
Councillor Paul Hiett, Forest of Dean District Council cabinet member for communities & parish and town councils, community safety, including health and well-being, welcomes the changes: “Our decision to support the funding of adaptation works where they exceed the mandatory limit of £30,000 will mean that the work can go ahead without delays, removing the financial stress for the disabled person and ultimately helping them to be more independent in and around their home.
“The change in the grants process means that residents eligible for Disabled Facilities Grants will be able to obtain the information they need to make choices about who they appoint to do the work and will also have more control over how and when the works are carried out.
“As well as helping residents with their grant applications, the new web page also provides more general guidance for home owners about repair and maintenance, and advice about other funds which may be available for improvements.
“If they wish, residents will also be able to appoint a project manager to assist them with more complicated and difficult home adaptations to their homes, with fees being covered by the grant, although some conditions will apply.
“Anyone applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant will still need to be referred by an Occupational Therapist. In the first instance, please contact the Gloucestershire County Council Adult Social Care Helpdesk on 01452 426868 to make a referral.”