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Children with disabilities

Housing support


You can expect to be working with your Occupational Therapist (OT) for the next few years as your child develops and their long term needs become clearer. At this stage you may not know how your child will develop and whether any special considerations may need to be given in relation to their housing needs. Together with the help and advice of your child’s OT, who is experienced in such matters, you may wish to start thinking about the options for your home in the future.

The information on this page is designed to help you start thinking about ideas now, so that you can start planning for the long-term future in your home.

It may be that your current home is not going to be suitable for your child’s long term needs even with adaptation. This is something you need to think about as it may need to be considered before the situation becomes critical. Your child’s OT will be able to discuss this with you in relation to your child’s future predicted needs.

Your occupational therapist will be happy to discuss with you the options that might be possible in your home, both now and in the future. They can also advise you on what you need to look for if you decide to move house.

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  • Is it possible that your child will be in a wheelchair?  
  • Is your house large enough for your child to manoeuvre about in a wheelchair?
  • Is your bathroom large enough to accommodate a wheelchair?
  • Is the hall way wide enough for a wheelchair?
  • Will your child be able to get upstairs?
  • Will your child be able to use a stair lift?
  • What is the access like to your home? Is it steep?
  • Can a wheelchair manoeuvre upstairs?
  • Can a wheelchair access the kitchen?
  • Is there room to extend?
  • Has the property been adapted or extended in the past? This may affect the type and extent of any future works that can be carried out to the property
  • Is planning likely to be a problem?
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Not all houses are suitable for adaptation. The scope for adaptation is also limited by the size of the mandatory grant. The current maximum available is £30,000 and is usually adequate to fund most adaptations. However, if extending your home is the only way to meet your child’s assessed needs then additional funding may be required.  

Your occupational therapist will be happy to discuss with you the options that might be possible in your home, both now and in the future. They can also advise you on what you need to look for if you decide to move house.

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If you rent your property, your occupational therapist may be able to help you with your application for re-housing and registering with Homes4Wiltshire, the Choice-Based Lettings system. They would advise on your child’s present and future predicted functional needs and how this relates to the type of property that would be suitable for your family; they would also be able to write a supportive report. This would be helpful in any bid you make for a property through the Choice Based Letting scheme. If the housing department is aware of your family’s long term needs for adapted properties they can try and influence the housing associations’ new build programme to accommodate this.

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Disabled facilities grants (DFG) for children


A Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is a grant from Wiltshire Council to help towards the cost of providing adaptations for certain works in and around your home, to make caring for your disabled child easier and/or to increase your child's level of independence at home. Such grants are given by the council under Part 1 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and adaptations for children are not means-tested.
The grant is paid if the proposed changes are necessary and appropriate to meet your child's needs and the work is both reasonable and practical, depending on the age, condition and location of the property, and the extent of the works.
The grant paid by the council will meet the needs of your child, but we will consider alternative schemes as long as they also meet the need, and any additional costs are funded from alterative sources.
The DFG can include minor adaptations, such as stairlifts and level access showers, and major adaptations, such as extensions, widening of internal and external doorways, external ramps and a downstairs toilet and/or bathroom.
Major adaptations may require planning permission and/or building regulations approval.
An Occupational Therapist (OT) will assess your disabled child’s needs and how they may be met in your home before recommending the required adaptations to Private Sector Housing (PSH).

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Private Sector Housing (PSH) administers the grant application and is responsible for making the decision about approving the grant and making payments. The team will also confirm the amount of grant that is available.
As part of this role they need to ensure that all options have been considered at an early stage. Staff will liaise with the OT to consider which options are necessary and appropriate to meet the needs of the disabled child. They will also consider whether the work is reasonable and practicable, having regard to the age, condition and layout of the property. The team also have to take into account the condition of the property and whether it is safe to live in. They also have to consider if the dwelling is suitable for adaptation due to its design, any planning constraints and the effect of any adaptations on others.
Where there are several options or the options are unusual or complex, a case conference involving other professionals may be arranged to ensure that all the options are considered from all view points and the decision reached is justified, cost effective and consistent in relation to the regulations that govern the terms of a DFG.
Before approving an application PSH will need to be sure that the proposal is the most cost effective option for meeting the disabled child’s needs and that the application is properly made.

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DFG’s for disabled children under 19 years of age are not means tested and are not based on a family’s ability to pay.
The scope for adaptation is limited by the amount of the Mandatory Grant. The current maximum grant available is £30,000 and this is usually sufficient to fund most adaptations. However, if extending your home is the only way to meet your child’s assessed needs then additional funding may be required.
The grant will only be approved for work assessed as being necessary and appropriate and reasonable and practical and will be paid when the council is satisfied that the work has been carried out to a satisfactory standard and the adaptations provided meet the needs of the child.

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In certain circumstances where the cost of eligible works exceeds the maximum grant, a Discretionary Grant may be available to top-up the mandatory grant.

Where the cost of the eligible works exceeds the maximum grant of £30,000, the council will use the following method to assess eligibility for a top-up discretionary grant. The maximum level of a discretionary (or top-up) grant is normally £10,000.

Before approving any top-up grant we would normally look at alternative methods of meeting the need, such as moving to a more suitable home. If this was not a practical option then we would consider other options.

Before a top-up grant can be considered the family would need to be means tested in order to assess the financial contribution, if any, that needs to be made by the parents of the disabled child (the exclusion which allows children’s applications to proceed without means testing does not apply with discretionary grants). It would be expected that the parents of a disabled child would agree to make their assessed contribution before any further grant funding is considered.

The availability of other sources of funding that the applicant can access, including equity release, charitable funding, re-mortgaging and private loans will also need to be considered before any top-up is approved. Evidence of applying for charitable funding and other sources of funding may need to be provided.
If other sources of funding are not available or a shortfall remains, a Wessex Loan may be available. Wessex work in partnership with Wiltshire Council to provide subsidised loans for a range of schemes including situations such as this.
Provision of any top-up discretionary grant would incur a legal charge of 15 years against the property.

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If you rent your property, your child’s OT may be able to help you with your application for re-housing and registering with Homes for Wiltshire.

They would advise on your child’s present and future predicted functional needs and how this relates to the type of property that would be more suitable for your family. They may also be able to write a report supporting your request for a move. This would be helpful in any bid you make for a property through the H4W scheme.
If the housing department is aware of your family’s long term needs for adapted properties they can also try and influence the Housing Association’s new build programme to accommodate this.

If you own your property, the OT will be able to advise you regarding the suitability of any prospective properties you wish to purchase.

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You can apply for a DFG for your disabled child if your home is the main, or only, residence of the child and you are able to confirm your intention for the child to remain living in your home as their main or only residence throughout the grant period (normally 5 years). You will be required to sign a certificate stating your intention to remain in the property for the next 5 years.

You are advised to contact your child’s OT in order to find out what help may be available for your disabled child before starting any adaptation work on your home, as grants will not normally be provided retrospectively.
Prior to making an application, your child’s OT will make an assessment of the child’s needs and confirm that the proposed works are necessary and appropriate. For some medical conditions the OT will need to seek advice from the disabled child’s consultant or other specialists.

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You can receive help to make the application and assistance throughout the whole process (including drawing plans, applying for building regulations and planning approval and sending the work schedule and plans to tender etc) from the local Home Improvement Agency (HIA). If you are a council tenant then this help will be provided by your landlord. Some housing associations may provide a similar service. Your OT can advise you about this.

You can also apply for a grant if you wish to arrange the work yourself. However, if you are considering applying for a grant, you should contact PSH before you start any work. You will not be awarded a grant for any works started before you receive approval from the council.

You or the agent will need to prepare a schedule of works and drawings/plans. These will need to be agreed in advance with PSH and the OT before tendering. The schedule of works needs to be itemised to enable the work to be competitively tendered with prices set against each individual item on the schedule of works. PSH will be able to advise on the number of quotes that are required for any application, as this depends on the likely cost.

If you wish to act as your own agent and arrange the work yourself, further information is available in the leaflet “The Role of an Agent and what you need to consider in employing an Agent” and is available on request.

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If the local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) acts as your agent, they can advise on other sources of funding when the work isn’t covered by the DFG or exceeds the maximum grant. They will write the specification for the work, organise the tenders, help with the formal application and supervise the work to completion. HIA’s have a wealth of experience in managing both the grant application and the design and build process.

You are, of course, free to choose an alternative agent, but we advise that you discuss options and preferences with PSH or your OT before arranging for another agent or carrying out the agent’s work yourself.

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No form of legal contract exists between the council and the contractor. You, as the client and employer, instruct the contractor to carry out the work and you are responsible for paying his bill. For this reason, any invoice received from the contractor must be made out in your name and not the council’s. The council will pay the grant payment direct to the contractor.

You can choose not to instruct the contractor quoting the cheapest price to carry out the works, but the grant will not be increased to pay the higher cost. If you choose an alternative contractor to carry out the work, you should advise the council immediately and explain why you have not chosen the cheapest contractor.

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If you wish you can add to the scheme, enhance the scheme or opt for a more extensive scheme than the one available under a DFG. A DFG can provide only certain adaptations and must always be the most cost effective way of meeting the disabled child’s needs. The council will only pay for the value of the grant so you will need to fund any extra costs over and above this amount for the ‘additional works’. More information is available in the leaflet “Works in excess of a scheme funded by a DFG”, which is available on request.

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PSH will need to determine that the proposed works are both reasonable and practicable, depending on the age and condition of the property and they will need to look at the most cost effective way of meeting the needs of the disabled child. They may recommend an alternative to the proposed scheme such as using existing rooms (for example using a dining room as a bedroom). This should be done in consultation with your child’s OT, who will be advising on functional needs, to ensure that any alternatives being considered are appropriate for your child’s assessed needs, taking into account present and future predicted needs in relation to their disability/condition.

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Grant monies will be paid only when the council is satisfied that the work has been completed to its satisfaction, meets the need and is in accordance with the detailed specification laid down in the schedule of works and with the grant approval. (Please note, however, that you are responsible for ensuring that your builder meets the standard you require).

A grant can be paid only on provision of an acceptable invoice, demand or receipt of payment for the works. An invoice is not acceptable if it is for work or services provided by the applicant or a member of his or her family. Where the works are carried out by the applicant or a relative, only invoices for materials or services that are purchased and brought in may be considered.

The council may pay the grant in full on completion of the works or by instalments as the work progresses and the council will normally pay the grant directly to your contractor. This should not affect your right to ensure that the contractor has completed the works to your satisfaction. If the contractor has not, you should notify the council at the earliest opportunity so that they can withhold payment, if appropriate.

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To help get the work carried out other costs and charges are likely to be incurred, including surveyors fees, planning permission and building regulations fees and agency fees. You will need to clarify with your agent what these costs are and whether they can be included in the DFG. You will also need to understand any liability you may incur

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Conditions will be applied to any grant awarded and it is important that you read and understand the condition of the grant. The conditions are detailed in the grant approval letters but they can be obtained in advance from PSH if required.

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Please refer to the  disabled facilities grants timeline on the grants and loans page.

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Land charges


It is a condition of the grant that a Local Land Charge will be made in the case of an ‘owner occupier’ application where the grant exceeds £6,000. This allows the recovery of funds in the event of a property subsequently being sold or otherwise disposed of. The Land Charge will be applied for the amount of grant that exceeds £5,000. For example in the case of a grant for £6,000 a £1,000 land charge will be applied. The maximum Land Charge is currently £10,000.

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However, when a property is disposed of, repayment of the land charge may be waived in the following circumstances:
• If a client moves to another property within the ten year period that does not require adaptations to be carried out and/or the new property is more appropriate to their child’s needs (as confirmed by an OT).
• If the disabled child is moving into an enhanced or extra care accommodation.
• If the parent’s death results in the child inheriting the whole of the property whose financial position is such that they could not raise a mortgage or a loan to repay the charge.

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Last updated: 24 January 2017 | Last reviewed: 24 January 2017