The House of Commons Library has published a report on the use of DFG’s.
It can be seen here, and says:
What are DFGs?
Mandatory DFGs are available from local authorities in England and Wales and the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland. They are issued subject to a means test
for essential adaptations to give disabled people better freedom of movement into and around their homes, and to give access to essential facilities within the home. There is an upper limit on the help available of £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and £25,000 in Northern Ireland.
DFG funding and delivery
Funding in England is channelled into the Better Care Fund (BCF) which consists of pooled resources from several sources, including NHS England. One of the aims of the BCF is to achieve improved integration of care and support services.
Central government funding for DFGs in England was set to be £573 million in 2023/24 and to remain at this level in the next financial year. On 4 April 2023, an additional £102 million was announced as a capital top up “over 2 years to increase funding and support for people to adapt or maintain their homes.”
Research highlights pressures around funding compared to levels of need for adaptation works. This can translate into long waits for adaptations. The 2019-20 English Housing Survey report on home adaptations recorded 53%
(1 million) households who did not have all the adaptations they needed, an increase from 45% in 2014/15.
An external review of DFGs commissioned by the Government which reported in December 2018 identified several challenges for DFGs, including:
- A reduction in local authority contributions meaning increased central government funding hadn’t resulted in as many people being helped.
- Limited analysis of local needs and demand, and limited advertising of DFGs for fear of stimulating demand.
- Complexities within the delivery system.
- Restrictive upper limits on grant. High levels of ‘drop outs’ due to a requirement to contribute.
- Tenure inequalities – relatively few grants are issued to private sector tenants.
- A need for DFGs to evolve in line with changing expectations and advances in information technology to remain relevant.
The Government’s National Disability Strategy (July 2021) promised new DFG guidance for authorities in England. This was published in March 2022 with the aim of helping authorities deliver DFGs effectively and efficiently.
The social care White Paper, People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform (updated March 2022) promised several developments including an increase to the maximum grant limit; potential changes to the DFG means test; a review of how DFG funding is allocated; and a new fund for minor repairs and changes. Consultation on these matters was expected in 2022 but is still outstanding.
Building new accessible homes
The lack of a requirement to build new homes to lifetime home standards is identified as a contributing factor to growing demand for adaptations.
The National Disability Strategy (July 2021) recorded an increase in the proportion of homes in England developed “with key accessible features” from 5% in 2009 to 9% in 2018. The Strategy included a commitment to take “immediate steps” to:
- boost the supply of housing for disabled people by raising accessibility standards for new homes, increasing the supply of affordable homes, including supported housing, and accelerating the adaptation of existing homes by improving the efficiency of local authority delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grant
- extend disabled tenants’ rights on accessibility
- ensure the safety of disabled people in buildings, for when there are emergencies
The Government response to consultation on raising accessibility standards for new homes was published in July 2022. There’s a commitment to raising accessibility standards for new homes through changes to Building Regulations.