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Councils failing to make application forms for Disabled Facilities Grants freely available

Around half of local authorities in England are failing to make application forms for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) freely available, researchers at the School of Law at Leeds University have claimed.

DFGs are grants paid towards the cost of building works which are necessary in order to meet the needs of a disabled occupant.

The relevant legislation requires that grants be processed within six months of the application and paid no later than 12 months from the date of the applications.

The Leeds University report said: “If a form is not available, local authorities can deny individuals their right to apply for a grant and also stop the ‘clock ticking’ for the purposes of the statutory timescales.”

It added that:

  • The failure to make copies of DFG application forms freely available was frustrating the will of Parliament, and also that of the Government, which had increased significantly the relevant grant to local authorities for DFG awards;
  • The failure to make forms available directly contradicted the principal guidance.
  • Of the local authorities that did make application forms available, only 7% did this by placing them online.
  • Almost three quarters of authorities stated that they accepted applications submitted without their prior agreement. “However, on analysis it appears that in only half of the local authority areas would the making of such an application be a realistic option.”
  • Almost three quarters of authorities confirmed that independent advocacy support was available to enable individuals to complete the application form in their area although the research was unable to clarify whether this support was available for applications submitted without the prior agreement of the council

The report called on the Secretary of State to use his powers to ensure that failing local authorities act in accordance with the law and relevant guidance.

The research was funded by the disabled children’s charity Cerebra and supervised by Professor Luke Clements. It was also supported by the Access Committee for Leeds, a disabled people’s organisation with national expertise in home adaptations.

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