Written by Michelle Pinion on Aug. 6, 2013
In England and Wales, disabled people with a low income and minimal savings may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant from their local council to help pay for the cost of installing a stairlift in their homes. These grants are means-tested, so whether you will receive enough to cover the entire cost of your stairlift, a proportion of the full cost, or even nothing at all, depends on your financial resources as well as on your individual needs.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government runs a similar funding scheme for homeowners and tenants. If you're concerned about not being able to afford a stairlift and would like to find a way to pass the means tested grant process, read on to find out more about what grants are available and how to apply for them.
What are Disabled Facilities Grants?
Disabled Facilities Grants are funds allocated by local councils to help disabled people make changes to their homes to improve access, gain greater freedom of movement, adapt their living environment and make their lives easier, such as installing a stairlift. These grants are means-tested, so how much money you may be eligible for will depend on how much you have in savings as well as your household income.
When you apply you will be asked for details of your average weekly income as well as your average weekly outgoings so that your financial circumstances can be assessed. It is important to be aware that not everyone who applies will be given the full amount of money to pay for their stairlift for free. Depending on your financial situation and individual needs, you may need to pay towards the work yourself.
The maximum amount available is £30,000 in England and £36,000 in Wales. The way local authorities administer grants and funding varies by area, and any work carried out must be deemed "necessary and appropriate". Grants towards stairlifts for disabled children under 19 years of age are calculated differently to those for adults, as they are not means-tested. Your local council will be able to provide you with more information.
How to Apply for a Stairlift Grant
Both disabled homeowners and tenants can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant, and landlords can apply on behalf of tenants. You need to certify that you intend to live in the property for the next 5 years. To find out whether you are entitled to a free grant to pay for the cost of having a stairlift installed in your home you will need to contact your local council.
You can ask to speak to someone in the Housing or Environmental Health departments, and if you explain your situation, they will be able to give you an application form to fill out and talk you through the next steps. Alternatively, you could try contacting the Social Services department for help and advice. Social Services will be able to advise on other home adaptations that may benefit you as well, such as wider doorways and ramps.
Before applying for financial assistance you will need to find out how much a stairlift will cost to install on your stairs. You should arrange for two or more companies to visit your home to do a free survey to check it is possible to install one on your staircase and to assess whether you will need a straight or curved lift. They will then be able to provide you with a quote for the work.
Your council is likely to ask you to provide two written estimates of the cost of the work. To arrange a free no-obligation quotation from the reputable suppliers that we work with, please fill out the form on the right hand of this page or click here.
Your council will also be able to arrange for a Social Services referral and an Occupational Therapy Assessment at your home, to assess whether the lift is necessary and suitable for your needs, and to advise on other adaptations that could make your life easier. You will need to describe why you need it and explain how your disability affects you on a bad day, and be able to justify why you need a grant to pay for the work.
Your local authority will need to consider the age and condition of your property before making a decision. They will arrange for an environmental health officer or building surveyor to visit your home to assess the feasibility of installing a stairlift. The work needs to be deemed "reasonable and practical". You will also need to provide evidence of your financial situation, such as bank statements.
How Long will it Take?
If you are hoping to receive a grant to pay for your stairlift, bear in mind that it can take quite a long time from the date of your application to the date it is actually installed. This is because your local council needs to arrange assessments and visits and will need time to process your application. How long you have to wait will also depend on the current demands for grants in your local area.
Some local authorities have a long waiting list of applicants and need to prioritise them according to need. However, you should find out whether your grant application has been successful within 6 months from the date you applied. Your council should be able to tell you how long you can expect to wait.
If you don't have the money to pay for the lift yourself, it is important not to start work on having it fitted before your application has been approved by the council. Local authorities never award grants retrospectively. You also need to double-check the conditions of any funding you receive so you are clear about the terms.
For example, if you move from your home within 5 years of having a stairlift installed you will be asked to repay the grant. If the Disabled Facilities Grant awarded is more than £5,000 local authorities have the right to ask for it to be repaid if the property is sold within 10 years (up to a maximum amount of £10,000).
How to Get Help with Your Application
If you feel overwhelmed and unsure about the process of applying for a grant and having work carried out on your home, you can ask your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) to help you with your application and with managing the work. Home Improvement Agencies are local not-for-profit organisations. To find your local HIA please visit:
Find Out More
To learn more about financial help that may be available to you when you buy a stairlift, please visit:
If you live in England or Wales:
If you live in Scotland:
For disabled people in private housing:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/03/31131031/1
For local authority tenants:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/03/29091237/1
For Housing Association tenants:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/03/29091158/1
Other Sources of Grants for Stairlifts
If you're unable to obtain a Disabled Facilities Grant from your local authority, it is worth exploring other funding options such as charitable grants, equity release or property repair loans.
Here are some charities that can help those in need to find financial assistance towards the cost of installing a stairlift:
Turn2us.org.uk offers a free helpline and helps people access benefits and grants from a list of 3500 charities.
Margaretsfund.org offers financial aid to women in ill health and in need. Grants must be applied for by a Caring Professional, not inviduals.
Ssafa.org.uk The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association has funds available to support existing and former members of the armed forces.