Disabled Facilities Grants: Changing the means test

Project status Active

The Minister for Housing and Local Government asked the Wales Centre for Public Policy to explore the implications of removing the means test for small and medium Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs).

DFGs are means-tested grants for owner-occupiers and tenants (private or social) who are disabled to help towards the costs of making their home accessible. DFGs are mandatory grants funded and administered by local authorities (LAs) from non-hypothecated funds.

In 2018 the Wales Audit Office published a report on Housing Adaptations which found that to improve timeliness in delivery of DFGs the Welsh Government should review whether DFGs should continue to be means-tested. Subsequently, the Public Accounts Committee undertook an inquiry into the issues raised by the WAO, and recommended that the Welsh Government review current approaches to the means test, among other proposed reforms.

In response to this, the Minister for Housing and Local Government is considering issuing new guidance on DFGs, specifically on removing the means test for small-medium grants.

To inform this guidance, the Minister asked us to consider:

  • How should small and medium DFGs be defined?
  • What are the financial implications for local authorities of removing the means test for small and medium DFGs?
  • What are the legal implications?
  • What are the social implications?
  • What are the consequences for implementation?

To address these questions, we are undertaking a mixed methods study. Data analysis are being conducted using the latest publicly available data on StatsWales. This was supplemented with analysis of legislation related to DFGs and with conversations with practitioners in local authorities in England that had already made changes to the means test for DFGs, and practitioners in local authorities in Wales on any changes they had made as well as their perspectives on the proposed change.

The report from this project is due to be published in February 2021.