Disabled Facilities Grants: Changing the means test

In 2019 in Wales 22% of the population were disabled, with the disabled population projected to increase significantly by 2035. Disabled Facilities Grants (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. They are mandatory grants funded and administered by local authorities from non-hypothecated funds.

The maximum amount that can be awarded through a DFG (£36,000) is set out in legislation, and means-testing is set out in the Housing Renewal Grants Regulations 1996. Local authorities can decide to fund adaptions using discretionary powers under the Regulatory Reform Order 2002, either as a top-up or instead of a DFG.

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.

This report draws on practitioners’ views and data analysis to assess the potential impacts on local authorities of removing the means test for small and medium Disabled Facilities Grants in Wales.