The Regulatory Reform Order

Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) are governed by the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. This Act explicitly covers mandatory DFGs offering assistance once the recommendation has fulfilled the criteria of an adaptation being ‘necessary and appropriate’ and ‘reasonable and practical’. They also have to satisfy a Test of Resources looking at their income and savings which determines whether they will have to contribute towards a grant. 

In 2002 the government brought in the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance)(England and Wales) Order 2002 which provide freedom and opportunities for the Local Authority to address housing issues. This Order had important implications for local housing authorities because it repeals much of the existing prescriptive legislation governing the provision of renewal grants to homeowners and replaces it with a new wide-ranging power to provide assistance for housing renewal.

See below links to the regulations and guidance.

The Regulatory Reform Order 2002 

Housing Renewal Guidance 2003

In 2008-9 the government extended the scope of the RRO to include use of the DFG money. This enables the authorities to use specific DFG funding for wider purposes. 

The Package of Changes to Modernise the DFG Programme

Creating greater flexibility within the fund, it allows an authority to address issues on a wider preventative basis that can’t be covered using mandatory DFG. The adoption and publication of a policy for housing assistance is a requirement of the RRO before assistance can be offered. The scope of the order is very wide and allows the Council to decide whether it provides grants, loans, advice etc for the purpose of repairing, improving, extending, converting or adapting housing accommodation. 

The government have increased the amount given to Local Authorities significantly in recent years. In 2016/17 the amount rose from £220m to £395m reaching £505m in 2019/20. The expectation is that the powers under the RRO will be used to allow authorities to be more flexible in how the money is spent but the grant conditions do still state that "Any money paid ... must only be used for the specific purpose of providing adaptations for disabled people who qualify under the scheme (or any other social care capital projects where otherwise agreed).

The DFG monies are now part the Better Care Fund (BCF) and it is expected that health priorities will become more important in the way DFG is spent, so that delayed transfers of care and readmission to hospital, which are key health priorities, could be supported using some of the DFG allocations. Housing options advice and support with moving is another important issue that could be funded using the RRO.

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