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Help With Home Maintenance

There are several different types of grants available for improving or maintaining your home. Grants are obtained from the Housing or Environmental Health department of your local authority and are likely to be means tested. However, even if you are above the means test limit, you may be successful in getting a grant for part of the cost.

If you are applying for a grant, you should never start the work before the Council has given its final approval, because the grant could be refused. If you move within 5 years of getting a grant,you may be required to repay part or all of the grant. This would not apply if you move permanently into hospital, a care home or sheltered housing.

If there is a Home Improvement Agency in your area they may be able to assist you in applying for a grant. In particular, the means test for Renovation grants is complex and the agency’s advice will be very useful. The publication ‘In Good Repair’ by Care & Repair England and Scope will also be helpful in guiding you to possible funding sources (for a copy call 0115 982 1527).

 

Renovation Grants

These are for major work, such as structural repair, dealing with damp, unsafe wiring, inadequate water supply or improving washing and toilet facilities. Renovation grants are also available for conversion, such as turning a house into flats. Your home will not be eligible for a grant if it is less than 10 years old and you must have lived in the property for at least 3 years.

Renovation grants are discretionary, which means it is the local authority’s decision to whom they give grants. However, they should have a policy which determines how they will make their decisions. Your local authority may provide a leaflet about this, or council staff should explain the policy to you.

Applying may be a two-stage process. The first stage will require you to provide some basic information, so that the council can tell you whether it is worth making a formal application. If you then go ahead, the council must inform you within 6 months whether or not they are willing to make a grant. If you are unsuccessful and feel that the council has not responded in line with their own policy, you might discuss it with your local councillor, or make a complaint through the council’s formal complaints procedure.

 

Home Repair Assistance

These are smaller grants, given for essential repairs or alterations, to older or disabled homeowners, or private tenants who are on low incomes.

The sort of work which might be covered would be repairs to windows or doors, home insulation, a downstairs lavatory – essential works to render a home safe, weathertight, and suitable.

Although not means tested, Home Repair Assistance is still discretionary and local authorities may impose their own criteria.

 

Disabled Facilities Grant

Unlike the other grants already mentioned, the disabled facilities grant is mandatory – that is, the local authority must give it if you fulfil certain conditions.

You must be disabled, meaning:

  • You are registered disabledOR
  • Your sight, hearing or speech is substantially impaired
  • You have a mental disorder or impairment of any kind
  • You are physically substantially disabled by illness, injury, impairment present since birth, or otherwise

 

You also have to establish that, without the intended work being done, you do not have ‘access’ to your home, or the basic amenities within it. You also have to satisfy the means test, which is similar to the one in force for renovation grants.

The disabled facilities grant could cover: making access to your home, or within your home, easier; providing appropriate kitchen or bathroom facilities to enable you to be more independent; improving the heating system; or a variety of other work which would make your home more suitable for your needs.

The grant is normally available from local authority’s housing department. You might, however, first approach social services, because they will be required to recommend the nature of adaptations to the housing department. An occupational therapist (OT), trained to assess the needs of people with disabilities, will visit you to assess your needs. Unfortunately OTs are in short supply and there may be quite lengthy delays for an appointment. You should not wait for the assessment, but make a formal application to the housing department as soon as possible, because the council is only required by law not to keep you waiting for more than six months for a decision. The sum available for disabled facilities grants will also be budgeted each year and you may have to wait if all the year’s allocations have been made.

 

The ‘Warm Front’ Scheme

Through this government funded initiative, you could claim a ‘Warm Front’ Grant of up to £3,500 – to make your home better insulated, warmer and healthier. For more details about the qualifying illnesses/disabilities and benfits you will need to be on, call Free on 0800 072 9007.

 

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