Practical and financial help for adapting your home and equipment
You may be able to get free equipment from your local social services department or on a long-term loan from the NHS. Equipment and adaptations under £1,000 (£1,500 in Scotland) can be partly or fully paid for by the local governing body, but what you get often depends on where you live.
You could also be entitled to financial help for larger and more expensive items, known as major adaptations. Get in touch with your local social services department, which will arrange an assessment.
A social worker, sometimes accompanied by an occupational therapist, will visit your home and assess your requirements. If you qualify for assistance then the social services department will help organise the adaptations to your home and cover some of the costs.
We have used the term ‘social services’ throughout this page. It means:
- local council if you live in England or Wales
- social work department if you live in Scotland
- local health and social care trust if you live in Northern Ireland
If you qualify for financial assistance, you can choose to have direct payments made to arrange your own care and services, including equipment and adaptations. This will give you far more control over which equipment to choose – although you’ll need to provide social services with records showing how the money was spent.
If you plan to use direct payments to pay for equipment, find out who will own the equipment (you or the social services department) and be responsible for maintaining it.
Always check with social services before you buy any large piece of equipment. They have to ensure you're using your direct payments to meet your needs at a reasonable cost.
If you want to buy a piece of equipment that is more expensive than the one social services has agreed to pay for, you may still be able to pay for it through a combination of direct payments and your own money. Talk to the department before you do this, as different locations may have different policies.
If you qualify for financial assistance in Scotland, you can now choose one of four payment options under the self-directed support scheme, you can:
- have the money sent directly to you (direct payments)
- tell the council how to spend the money
- let the council decide how to spend the money
- combine options 1, 2 and 3 depending on the care and support you need
Minor adaptations don’t require major building work. Social services generally calculate minor adaptations at under £1,000 (£1,500 in Scotland). This might cover putting in handrails, or an intercom, but wouldn’t be enough to pay for installing a stairlift.
Financial support from social services for minor adaptations depends on where you live in the UK:
- England – adaptations less than £1,000 are normally provided free of charge, if your local council decides you need the adaptation and you’re eligible.
- Scotland – essential equipment and adaptations under £1,500 are generally provided free of charge.
- Wales – you may need to pay a reasonable amount towards any minor adaptations and equipment yourself, depending on your financial circumstances.
- Northern Ireland – your local health and social care trust decides whether or not you need to pay for any adaptations or equipment yourself.
To get locally-funded adaptations to your home, contact social services, which will advise you on how these can be funded and provided. Read our information about getting community care services for more.
For major adaptations to your home involving substantial building work, you’ll normally need to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant. This is money to pay towards the costs of the adaptations. Depending on your income or savings you might need to pay some or all of the costs yourself. You can apply for a grant regardless of your prognosis.
Disabled Facilities Grants are paid for by your local council, or if you live in Northern Ireland by the Local Housing Executive. It will have to agree that the adaptations are necessary and appropriate, as well as feasible – which will depend on the age and condition of the property.
Please note: Disabled Facilities Grants are not available in Scotland. For more information please see the Scotland.gov Equipment and Adaptations pages.
If you need any help or advice with applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau
You can only apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant if you or the person you’re applying for:
- own the property or live there as a tenant
- intend to live in the property during the grant period of five years
You’ll find detailed information about applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant on:
Grants are means-tested and will take into account any savings or income that you or your partner have. You may need to contribute towards the cost of the work yourself. The amount of support you may be able to get depends on where you live in the UK.
Maximum Disabled Facilities Grant
If you’re a tenant
You’ll need to get your landlord’s permission to make adaptations if you’re a tenant, otherwise you may be in breach of your tenancy agreement, which could ultimately lead to eviction.
If you have a short-term private tenancy of one year or less, your landlord can refuse to give permission for adaptations. They can also evict you without giving a reason.
Disabled Facilities Grants are also available to landlords to help them to pay for adaptation costs – it might be worth mentioning this grant when you ask to make adaptations.
Community Care Grant – Northern Ireland only
If you live in Northern Ireland you may be eligible for a Community Care Grant to help pay for any adaptations or equipment you need. See the NI Direct website for more information.
You may not need to pay VAT on building work for adaptations to your home or on equipment. Always ask the builder or supplier whether the work or product qualifies for VAT relief.
Council Tax reduction
If the adaptations increase your home’s value and put it into a higher council tax band, you may be able to get a discount on your council tax. This is called the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme. Contact your local council to apply.
Home improvement agencies and DIY (do it yourself)
Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) help those living with a terminal illness, the elderly and disabled people make adaptations to the homes they own. They are non-profit organisations that are supported by government and local councils. Home improvement agencies can:
- provide advice
- visit your home
- get quotes
- draw up plans for adaptations
- check what financial help you may be entitled to
The first visit is usually free.
Age UK provide handyperson services in many parts of the UK. Some charge a small fee, others are free. See what’s available near you by calling the local adviceline:
- Age UK: 0800 169 6565
- Age Cymru: 08000 223 444
- Age Scotland (Silver Line): 0800 4 70 80 90
- Age NI: 0808 808 7575
This content is provided for general information purposes only. It's not medical, financial, legal or personal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. How our information is created and how it's used.
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