The process for applying for a disabled facilities grant (DFG) is complex with many parties involved in the process. Added to this budgets are normally stretched leading to strategies to conserve and manage the application process.
This has led to many authorities instituting methods of prioritising applications according to the following parameters
- Urgency of need
- Time Waited
- Funds available
The Good Practice Guide published by the Home Adaptations Consortium recommends that an authority establishes 2 categories of need
Urgent - Where a customer either is unable to return home from hospital without the adaptation or can’t access essential facilities in the home without the adaptation.
Non-urgent - Where a customer is able to use the toilet facilities within the home and can access washing facilities through strip washing etc.
It should be noted that despite these systems for managing cases, the mandatory element of the grant should still be adhered to and that cases should be processed in accordance with the statutory timescales.
The details of how the schemes are managed vary across local authorities and frequently according to how much money is in the budget. For example, if a local authority has sufficient funds and there is no waiting list, then it is logical for cases to be seen on a chronological basis. However, most councils do operate a system of prioritisation. See below example from Swale in Kent, where they have employed a points based system that factors in time waiting alongside the urgency of the case.
Others use a banded system where applicants are put into one of three categories and then prioritised according to when the application was received. This system is more transparent but is less flexible if people’s needs change.
A third approach is a combination of both approaches whereby points are allocated and the applicant is then put into a band.
Others use a more simple system whereby most cases are treated on a chronological basis but allow for urgent cases to be allocated straightaway.
Panels can be used to receive appeals where the client isn’t satisfied with their banding or points.Swale and other Kent authorities use the points based system that has the time element included so that low priority cases don’t just languish as higher priority cases are seen. They also provide a questionnaire which they ask the client to complete at assessment stage.