We recently took a look at the cost of stair lifts and explained how Newbury Mobility is able to offer basic, straight, used stair lifts from as little as £895.00. But what happens to all those folks for whom even £895.00 is just too much to raise? (And if that’s you, never fear – you’re far from being alone.)
Obtaining a Stair Lift with a Disabled Facilities Grant
Well, if you find yourself getting dizzy trying to work out how you can possibly afford such a thing, there is help to be found out there, even in these days of austerity and privation.
Your first port of call should be to make a Disabled Facilities Grant application to your Local Authority. This is normally referred to as a “DFG”.
Now, it’s important not to confuse a DFG with a BFG because that’s really not the same thing at all. Although to be fair the difference is quite noticeable.
Disabled Facilities Grants are made to disabled people who are finding it difficult to move safely, comfortably and independently through their own home and who intend to live in the same property for the next five years.
Such grants can be made either to people who own their home, or to people who have some sort of tenancy, which could be council, private or housing association. If you are a tenant, then you will need the permission of your landlord before your local authority will agree to help you, but a landlord cannot refuse permission unreasonably. (Landlords can apply on behalf of a disabled tenant if they wish.)
In England, the maximum amount that can be awarded for a DFG is £30,000 but if you’re looking for a stair lift, that should more than cover it. (Unless you want one made of gold, of course.)
Do I qualify?
Your local authority will need to establish that there is a genuine need and that the equipment or the adaptations sought are necessary and appropriate to your needs. The property will also have to be capable of having a stair lift fitted, which may sound a little obvious, but not all properties are.
They will normally arrange for an Occupation Therapist to carry out an assessment to establish eligibility.
DFGs are also means-tested so your local authority will need to know about your household’s financial circumstances. The amount awarded will be affected by your household income and if you have over £6000 in savings, in which case you may well be asked to make a contribution towards the DFG. Certain benefits, including DLA and Income Support are, however, generally ignored.
How do I apply?
Contact your local authority. You can find yours by following this link. They will send you a form to fill in and return to them.
If you need assistance with completing the form, a Home Improvement Agency can help, but be aware that some may charge a fee if your application is successful. Home Improvement Agencies are set up to ensure that people are able to stay safe and secure in their own home. They offer a whole range of helpful services, including Handymen, and they are overseen by “Foundations”, a body appointed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. You can find your local Housing Improvement Agency, along with lots more useful information on their website.
How does the grant get paid?
Depending on the project, you’ll either be paid in instalments as the work progresses, or in full when all of the work has been completed. It may be that the local authority will pay the contractor direct rather than paying you and you then paying the contractor, but all of that will have been agreed prior to the commencement of the work. Obviously, the local authority won’t release funds until they are happy with the completed project.
It’s worth noting that if a relative or friend carries out the work for you, it is likely that the local authority will only pay for materials.
The other very important thing to note is that you should never start any work on your home until the council has approved your application. Otherwise it is possible that you will receive nothing at all.
Can my local authority turn me down due to a lack of available funds?
Not if you meet all of the legal and financial criteria. DFGs are mandatory, which means that no local authority can turn you down simply because they’re strapped for cash.
How long will it take?
Well, with the best will in the world, this process often takes quite a while. But there are regulations in place that set out time limits for decisions about DFGs and payments. Once your fully completed application has been received by your local authority, the clock starts ticking. They will give you a decision in writing as soon as possible, and not later than within six months.
Once a decision has been made, things normally proceed in a fairly orderly fashion, although that will depend to an extent on how many recent applications your council has received. It is possible that payment can be delayed for up to twelve months from the date of the application, although that is quite unusual.
You can help make the whole thing go as rapidly as possible by providing all of the necessary information at the outset. For instance:
- Your completed DFG application form
- Your completed Owner’s and/or Tenant’s Certificate
- Written permission from the landlord for work to be undertaken if applicable
- Two quotes or estimates for the work
- Your National Insurance number
Newbury Mobility is always more than happy to provide free estimates for the installation of a stairlift and, because all of our customers are within no more than an hour’s drive from Newbury in Berkshire, you can be assured that should your application for a DFG be successful, we will carry out the work swiftly to ensure you experience no further delay. Contact us to arrange a free site survey.
What happens if I am rejected?
If your application has been rejected, yet you feel that you still match the criteria, you can appeal by asking your local council for their appeals and complaints procedure.
If your appeal is rejected but you still feel unhappy with the decision, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Where can I get more help?
If you’re struggling with making your application for a DFG, there is help available. As already mentioned, you can get assistance from a Home Improvement Agency, but there are also a number of occupational charities that may be able to assist you.
For example, if you are or were in the Civil Service, the organisation “For You By You” may well be able to help. If you work now or used to work in banking, the Bank Workers Charity is there for you. And if you are or were a member of the armed forces (including having done National Service) or you are the dependant of such a person, The Royal British Legion is there to give you a hand.
(Some of these organisations may also be able to help if you have been awarded only a partial grant and are struggling to keep up with your financial contributions.)
There are many such organisations out there and the place to search for them is the fantastic resource that we’ve mentioned before and will no doubt mention many times again provided by Turn2Us.
I’ve tried everything but at the end of the day, I’ve just got too much dosh!
Well, in that case, we salute you. But remember that if you are thinking of buying a stair lift privately and live in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire or Hampshire, Newbury Mobility should be your first port of call for fantastic value and the friendliest customer service you’ll find throughout four counties.
So there, you go. All you could possibly wish to know about DFGs. We hope all of the preceding has been of some help to you and that it hasn’t been too dry and boring and it hasn’t sent you off into the land of nod.
We look forward to hearing from you soon. Once you’re awake again, of course.
All the very best
Andy and the team.