Home Personal Housing Housing Grants – Support for Low Income Families

Housing Grants – Support for Low Income Families

Housing grants are available from charities, energy suppliers, government organisations, and private sector bodies, to improve your home or assist with household bills.

There are a wide range of housing grants available, depending on the kind of improvements you wish to make to your home, your location, and your personal circumstances and eligibility.

Housing grants for home improvement

So you’ve decided to improve your home and now you want to know if there is a suitable housing grant that could help.

One major factor when deciding who you should contact to apply for a housing grant is the kind of work you wish to carry out on your home.

Energy efficiency

Housing grants to improve energy efficiency are widely available from government organisations, local authorities and energy suppliers. To find out exactly who to contact in your area, visit one of the following:

Simple Energy Advice

This is a government endorsed advice service, currently available in beta form, which in addition to providing advice on local grant schemes also offers help on reducing your energy bills and making your home warmer.

Energy Saving Trust

This service offers independent advice on energy efficiency, including related housing grants, information on renewable energy and their database of energy efficient products.

Home repair and maintenance

These housing grants are generally available to make your home more safe, for instance, through the fitting of smoke alarms, or where the occupants are elderly, disabled, or on too low an income to afford such improvements.

Contact the Home Improvement Agency (HIA) to find out exactly what housing grants are available to you.

The HIA works with local authorities in England and Scotland. The equivalent in Wales is Care & Repair Cymru.

HIA housing grants will generally cover home improvements, home repair, adapting your home to suit your needs or general home maintenance.

Certain home improvement grants are also available through UK charities, although these are reliant on first checking to see if your local authority can help, ensuring you are willing to take financial advice if you are in debt, your location, certain affiliations (such as a profession or religion), and your personal circumstances.

Grants for the disabled

The disabled facilities grant is available through your local authority. Its purpose is to help with the expense of adapting a home so that the disabled occupant may live there as independently as possible.

The disabled facilities grant could be used to:

  • improve access to the home through the use of a ramp or the widening of doors
  • improve access in the home by fitting a stairlift, moving or installing a bathroom
  • downstairs, widening of doorways, or moving fitted installations to provide more space
  • adapt bathroom or kitchen facilities to suit the occupant’s needs
  • install or update the home’s heating system
  • adapt controls, for instance, lighting controls, to suit the occupant’s needs

If you live in rented accommodation, it may still be possible to apply for a disabled facilities grant as long as your landlord gives their permission and you meet local authority requirements.

As at March 2019, in England, the disabled facilities grant value is up to £30,000. In Wales, the value is up to £36,000. In Northern Ireland, the value is up to £25,000. The disabled facilities grant is not currently available in Scotland, but some help may be obtained for equipment and adaptations through the Scottish Government website.

Housing grants for the disabled may also be available from certain UK charities as long as you meet their requirements.

Household arrears

If you fall behind with your utility payments, your utility company may be able to help.
A number of energy suppliers offer an energy fund scheme to their customers. However, this is reliant on severe financial hardship. Other requirements will vary, depending on the particular supplier, but you will be expected to prove your financial hardship, explain the reasons for the situation, such as redundancy, and how the grant will make a difference.

There is similar help available for water bill arrears, for example via Water UK.

Seeking financial help from your water supplier may mean that you are required to fit a water meter. Households with a water meter may qualify for the WaterSure scheme which places a maximum on the amount of money you will pay for your water.

What other help is available?

In addition to the above housing grants and schemes, you may also be eligible for the following:

Support for mortgage interest (SMI)

This is a government loan, so unlike a housing grant it must be repaid, which may be available should you take out a home improvements loan.

Eligibility relies on the receipt of certain benefits, such as universal credit, and the home improvement itself. Acceptable improvements include adapting the home for a disabled occupant, fitting a new bath or shower, or works that make a structure safe.

Winter fuel payment

This one-off Government payment is tax free and only available to people born before 6 November 1953, irrespective of income. It ranges from £100 to £300.

Cold weather payment

This Government payment is available to those receiving pension credit or certain other state benefits. It becomes available when the average temperature remains at 0°C or less for 7 consecutive days between the beginning of November and the end of March, resulting in a £25 payment for each 7 day period.

Warm home discount

As long as your energy supplier is a member of this scheme, you may be eligible for the warm home discount if you are a low income family or receive pension credit. This discount to your electricity bill can mean a saving of £140 on your October to March energy spend.

Free water saving equipment

Exactly what is available will depend on your water supplier, but water saving equipment that you may receive for no cost includes shower timers, water widgets, cistern bags, and shower flow regulators.

Fire safety

You may be able to receive a home fire risk assessment, free of charge, from your local fire station, and a free smoke alarm where needed.

Are housing grants just for houses?

A housing grant is designed to improve your home, so no, it doesn’t just have to be for a house. Other housing grant acceptable homes include boats and caravans.

Considerations when applying for a housing grant

When applying for a housing grant, you will generally be asked for information on the following:

  • whether you receive any form of state benefit
  • household income and personal debt
  • what improvements you wish to make to your home – not all improvements are eligible
  • where you request a grant to handle arrears, details of those arrears including reasons for the arrears
  • the area where you live – this will decide which local authority, utility company or charity to apply to
  • whether you own your home or rent it from a landlord

When applying for a housing grant, it is always best to have all the information you need to hand.

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