Everyone wants to continue living in their own home for as long as they are able to do so – happily, and more importantly, safely. You may need to consider making some adaptations to keep the home safe, and some changes will be more expensive than others.
Grants and local authority funding are available for certain types of home adaptation. This can include help with funding stairlifts, ramps, rails, ground floor bathrooms and more.
For those funding their own home improvements, there are still a number of ways to organise the finances, or borrow money.
Read our top tips on funding home adaptations for the elderly below.
How To Fund Home Adaptions for the Elderly & Disabled
There is funding available for home adaptations for people who meet certain criteria. This funding predominantly comes from local authorities, in the form of the Disabled Facilities Grant, but there are also charities that can help older people to fund necessary work to their home.
Disabled Facilities Grant
The Disabled Facilities Grant is one of the best-known grants that can help with funding home adaptations for the elderly or disabled. It is specifically for making changes to a home that will enable a disabled person to continue living at home safely. The DFG is means-tested, meaning it is only open to people below a certain savings threshold.
What your loved one will receive as part of a Disabled Facilities Grant depends on what they need and their financial circumstances. However, it can be a real life-line for many older people who need essential work to continue living happily and safely in their own home.
Frequently Asked Questions about Disabled Facilities Grants
What changes can you make with a Disabled Facilities Grant?
The changes that you can make with a Disabled Facilities Grant will be highly dependent on what the Occupational Therapist sees the user's needs as being.
However, some common examples are widening doorways, installing ramps, moving bathrooms/bedrooms downstairs and setting up stairlifts.
Who is eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant?
As suggested by the name, the person applying or a person living in your property must be disabled.
The DFG is means-tested. This means that the person applying for the DFG must also be below the Local Authority's savings threshold in order for their application to be successful. The first £6,000 of household savings are not considered as part of the means test.
How do you apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant?
To apply for a disabled facilities grant, you are required to complete an application form which you can request from the local authority.
The local authority will request information about the user's need for the work, and will usually send an occupational therapist to the property to work out exactly what is required.
Once you have applied for a grant, your local authority must tell you about its decision in writing as soon as it can, and no later than six months after you applied.
Can you apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant if you have already started the work?
You will not be granted a Disabled Facilities Grant for work that has been completed, or work that has already begun.
How much can you receive from a Disabled Facilities Grant?
A disabled facilities grant will provide no more than £30,000 in England and £36,000 in Wales.
The amount you can get will depend on the cost of the work that needs doing
Can you receive a Disabled Facilities Grant if you are renting your home?
Yes, you can still receive a DFG if you are a a renting tenant, but you will need your landlord's permission.
They will need a good reason to reject your application though, as otherwise they are likely to be breaking Disability Discrimination laws.
Other Local Authority Funding & Support
The Disabled Facilities Grant is helpful for larger-scale work, but there is local authority support available for smaller home adaptations too. In fact, home adaptations that cost less than £1,000 can usually be fully funded by the council. This can include improvements such as:
- having a grabrail installed
- fitting a ramp for getting in and out of the home
- motion-sensing lights at the front of the house
Financial Support from Charities
Some charities provide support for funding home improvements for the elderly and disabled. Many of these only operate locally, so you should speak to your local authority about what is available.
One charity that operates nationwide is Independence at Home. They support people who have a long-term illness or disability and need financial help towards the cost of equipment, home adaptations or other essential items to improve your independence, comfort, safety and quality of life at home.
To receive support from Independence at Home, you must be in financial need and unable to afford the equipment or building work yourself. Additionally, you must be referred by a professional worker from health, social care or a charity that is in contact with you or your family member.
How to Self-Fund Home Adaptations
If your relative has substantial income and savings then it is unlikely that they will be eligible for significant local authority grants to help fund their home adaptations. This wealth could include money from from work, investments, property or pension payments.
If this is the situation that your relative finds themselves in, then you will need to work out the best way to for them to fund the adaptations themselves.
However, just because somebody is above the threshold for significant support in funding home adaptations does not necessarily mean that they have the cash up front to make the changes they need to their home. You may need to make some big decisions about how to use their money wisely.
Below, we have looked at some of the different options for self-funding improvements to the home.
1. Use savings to pay for home adaptations
This may sound obvious, but paying directly from their own savings is one of the lowest-risk options when it comes to paying for home improvements.
This can also play a role in planning for Inheritance Tax. If your relative has funds that are likely to be subject to inheritance tax, this may be a wise way of reducing their savings, and therefore the ultimate tax bill.
2. Use money gifted from a relative
If you are an older person, then paying for someone else’s home adaptations can make for a good gift – and again be a wise way of planning the estate in regards to Inheritance Tax (IHT).
Gifts made more than 7 years prior to someone’s death are exempt from IHT – and there is a sliding scale rate for gifts made between 3 and 7 years. Find out more about the IHT rules about gifting.
3. Equity Release
Equity Release provides either a tax-free cash lump sum or the opportunity to draw down smaller amounts of money against the value of the property.
For some people, this makes it a smart way of obtaining cash from the value of the home that you are making improvements to.
Equity Release could make sense for somebody that has value tied up in their home but is not keen to move or downsize. Many older people love their homes, and want to be able to spend the rest of their life in them, safely and independently.
However, Equity Release may be an extreme solution, particularly if the adaptations are limited. Equity release does also have risks, and is quite a process, so you will want the support of expert and independent financial advisers, such as Laterlivingnow.
Home Improvement Agencies
Home Improvement Agencies are often small, not-profit organisations that receive funding from government to support with home improvements. They offer essential information and support to elderly and disabled people who need advice on regard to home adaptations.
Home Improvement Agencies can help to identify the changes that need to be made, how much this will cost, and the best way of going about the changes to the home. This will include advice on how to apply for grants, such as the Disabled Facilities Grant.
They are also able to support with the installation of some smaller improvements that will improve the safety and independence of older people. This includes fitting lights, rails and keysafes.