Help from the council to pay for home adaptations

If you or someone else in your household is disabled, you may need to adapt your home to make day-to-day living easier. It may be possible to get a grant from the council to help with the cost of the work. This grant scheme was introduced in April 2009.

How do I work out which adaptations are needed?

If you are adapting your home for a disabled person, you may require some help and advice on the kind of work that will best suit their needs. The page on getting adaptations done has more information on where you can get this help.

Can I get an assessment of my needs?

If you are applying for a grant for adaptations, the council must offer the disabled person in your household an assessment of their needs, which will be carried out by the social work department. The assessment will also take into account the needs of other members of your household.

Once the assessment has been carried out, the council will recommend ways to make life easier for the disabled person. As well as adaptations, this could include equipment such as ramps or a bath hoist, or extra help with domestic tasks such as cleaning and shopping. In fact, it may turn out that you don't need to get any building work carried out at all.

As well as making recommendations on what is needed, the assessment will also indicate whether the person's needs are a priority, that is, how urgently the person needs the adaptations, and whether they are essential at this stage.

If adaptations are necessary, the council can then advise you on how to apply for a grant for the work.

If you're a home owner and your home isn't suitable for adaptation, the council can even give you information and advice on how to sell your home and buy a new one, if this is the best way to meet your needs.

Who can make an application for a grant?

You can apply for a grant if you're a home owner, or if you part own your home through a shared ownership or shared equity scheme.

You can also apply if you're a tenant. You'll need to get your landlord's permission to get the work done, but they can't turn down your request without a good reason. The page on adaptations in private rented housing has more information.

Agricultural and crofting tenants can also apply. However, the work must count as an improvement for which you would receive compensation once your tenancy ends, which may not apply to adaptation work.

Find out more about compensation for agricultural tenants leaving a tenancy and compensation for crofters leaving their croft.

If you're a council tenant or housing association tenant and you need adaptation work carried out, you should contact your landlord to let them know. In some exceptional circumstances you may be able to apply for a grant, but generally this kind of work should be carried out by the council or housing association.

Find out more about adaptations in social housing.

If you live in a mobile home, you won't be able to apply for a grant. However, if you or anyone else in your household is disabled, the council still has a duty to make sure your needs are met, so will still need to offer you a care assessment and help to cope with day-to-day living.

What kind of work can I get a grant for?

The council has to award you a grant if the work is essential to the disabled person, and:

  • you're adapting a home for a disabled person,


  • the property is the disabled person's only or main home,


  • the property doesn't have a sink, bath, shower or washbasin with hot and cold water, or a toilet that isn't shared with any other households, and you want to install one or more of these amenities that will meet the needs of the disabled person,


  • the home already has the hygiene and washing amenities listed above but the disabled person isn't able to use one or more of them,


  • the work is structural or involves making permanent changes to the house but

    does not


    • extending the home to create extra living space, or

    • creating accommodation in a separate building (for example, converting a separate garage to a bedroom).

It's up to the council to decide whether or not an adaptation is essential: this is decided as part of the community care assessment process.

Who counts as disabled?

A disability is a physical or mental condition that has a long-term, adverse affect on your day-to-day life. This includes both physical and mental disability. However, to be eligible for a grant, the adaptations you wish to carry out must be related to the person's disability. This is something that you can work out with the social worker or occupational therapist who carries out the care assessment.

What if I don't meet all the criteria?

If the work you want to do is essential for the needs of the disabled person but doesn't fulfil all the criteria listed above, the council must provide you with advice and information to help you get funding elsewhere.

The council can also decide to award you a discretionary grant, although if this is the case, the rules about minimum percentages (see 'what is a minimum percentage grant' below) don't apply, and the council can ask you to contribute a higher percentage of the total amount.

If you're unsure about whether or not you're eligible for a grant, contact the council's housing department for further advice.

How do I apply for a grant?

You should be able to pick up an application form from your local housing office or download one from your council's website. Before you fill in the form, you'll need to have a clear idea of what you want to do, as you'll need to include plans and estimated costs.

You may also need to provide information about your financial circumstances (for example, your income and any savings you have), and the financial circumstances of your husband, wife or civil partner and anyone else who lives with you, or will be living with you when the work is done.

The council may ask you to provide further information, to back up the information on the form. If you don't supply this within a set time, the council won't consider your application.

If you need help filling in the form, contact the council, or an adviser at Citizens Advice. Bear in mind that it's an offence to put anything false on your application form or in any further information you supply.

What if my situation changes after I've applied?

Once you've handed in your application, you must let the council know if your circumstances change in a way which could affect your application before a decision has been made. For example, you should inform the council if the disabled person's condition changes significantly.

Can I start the work before the council makes a decision about my application?

In general, you shouldn't start the work until the council has made a decision about your application. However, if you need to start the work as soon as possible, for example, because your home is currently unsafe, the council can’t turn your application down on this ground.

Even if the situation is an emergency, it's best to talk to the council before starting any work, just to be sure.

How will I know what the council decides?

If the council approves your application, it must let you (and the owner of your home, if you're a tenant) know:

  • what the approved expense is (see below)

  • how much you'll need to contribute

  • how much grant you're getting and whether it's a minimum percentage grant (see below)

  • any terms and conditions attached.

If the council turns down your application or awards you less money than you asked for, it has to let you know the reasons why.

What is the approved expense?

The approved expense is the amount the council decides you need to carry out the work that is covered by the grant.

The approved expense may not cover the cost of all the work. This may be because the council does not think your estimates are reasonable. It may publish a list of guideline prices that it considers reasonable for different adaptations, such as installing a stairlift or building a wet room – ask the housing department if this is the case in your area.

Or the approved expense may be lower than the amount of money you request because not all the work meets the grant criteria. For example, if part of the work involves building an extension on your home to provide a bedroom for a disabled person, the council does not have to give a grant for this element of the work.

How much will I actually get?

You won't necessarily get all of the approved expense. The amount of money you get will depend on how much the council thinks you should contribute towards the approved expense.

This will be the greater of:

  • the amount of the approved expense minus your contribution (if any), or

  • a portion of the approved expense, called the minimum percentage loan (see below).

What is a minimum percentage grant?

The minimum percentage grant is a portion of the approved expense you are guaranteed to get.

If you've applied for a grant to adapt a home for a disabled person or reinstate an adapted home, you'll get 100 per cent of the approved expense, provided that you or anyone else in your household receive any of the following benefits:

  • income support

  • income-based jobseeker's allowance

  • the guarantee element of pension credit, or

  • income-related employment and support allowance.

The following people count as being part of your household:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner

  • any of your dependents, or people on whom you depend (for example, your children or parents)

  • anyone else who lives with you or will be living with you when the work is done.

Otherwise, you'll be limited to 80% of the approved expense, although the council can offer you a higher grant if it chooses.

Can I ask for a review of my contribution?

If you think you are being asked to contribute too much, you can ask the council to review its assessment of your contribution. If you decide to do this, you must ask for the review within 21 days of being told about your contribution. If you can't request a review within that time, the council may extend the deadline for you, but it doesn't have to. The review will be carried out by a senior member of staff who wasn't involved in the assessment process. However, you can't request a review of their decision.

What if the cost of the work goes up?

If the cost of the work goes up once it's started, you can apply for more money, but the council has to be satisfied that:

  • the cost is definitely going to be more than you originally estimated, and

  • this increase is beyond your control.

For example, this could be the case if you start the work and then discover another problem that must be fixed before the work can be finished, such as damp or structural defects.

When will I get the money?

The council will pay you the grant either:

  • within one month of the date on which the work has been completed and the home is now fit for you to live in, or

  • in instalments while the work is being done, with the final instalment within one month of the finishing date.

Receiving the money in instalments may be a better option if you need to put down deposits or pay for the work as it's done. However, the council will only pay you in instalments if it's happy that the work is being carried out. For example, you may have to finish specified bits of work by certain dates before the instalments will be paid. If an instalment is paid before the work is completed and the work is still not finished within the next 12 months, you may have to repay the money.

Are there any other conditions?

There are also conditions that apply once the work has been done:

  • The house must be used as a private home (although some of it can be used for business purposes, for example, a shop or office).

  • The house must be your only or main home (so, for example, you can't decide to move somewhere else and use it as a holiday home).

  • You must keep the home in good repair.

If the council asks, you must certify that the conditions above are being fulfilled.

For how long must I stick to these conditions?

These conditions last for 10 years from the date the work is finished.

When the council pays the final instalment of the grant, it will register a notice in the relevant land register, stating the conditions which apply to the grant, how long they apply for and what happens if you break them. This means if you want to sell your home, this will be on record.

What happens if I want to move house?

Normally, you won't have to pay the grant back if you sell up and move house within the next 10 years. However, the conditions will remain attached to the property so will transfer to the new owner. This means they will need to keep to the conditions too, for example, by keeping the home in good repair.

What if I break the conditions?

The council can ask you to pay back the grant, with interest, if you break any of the conditions. However, it may give you time to put things right first. For example, if you have let your home fall into disrepair, you may be given time to repair it. If it is not your fault that you have broken the conditions (for example, if you couldn't use the property as your only or main home because you have moved into a care home) the council can choose to overlook the breach.

What happens if my home is repossessed before the conditions have expired?

If your home has to be repossessed by your mortgage lender before the conditions have expired, the lender will pay off the grant and interest, and will then add the amount to your mortgage debt.

If you're worried that your home may be repossessed, talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice or money advice centre as soon as possible.

Can I apply for another grant?

If you're already had an application for a grant approved, you can't then apply for another grant for the same work. In addition, the council can't approve another grant for your home for different work within the next 10 years, unless at least one of the following conditions applies:

  • When you made your first application, you couldn't predict that the work for which you now need a further grant would need to be done. For example, this may be the case if the disabled person's condition has worsened.

  • You wouldn't have been able to carry out the new work when you were carrying out the original work.

  • The work wasn't considered to be eligible when you originally applied.

  • The council has invited you to apply for a grant to pay for:

    • replacing unsafe electrical wiring

    • installing mains-powered smoke detectors

    • insulation

    • installing a fire-resistant door

    • fitting a main door entry-phone system.

What if my application is turned down?

If the council turns your application down, they have to write to you to let you know why. If your application is refused, you can make a complaint to the council using their official complaints procedure. If you're not happy with the outcome, you can apply to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. You may also be able to ask for a judicial review.

Talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice or other local advice agency if you want to challenge the council - an adviser will be able to look at your options and help you decide what's best to do. 

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 21 October 2020

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