Freedom of Information Requests submitted on behalf of A Wood Idea have revealed that council funding through Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) is at a 10-year high.
Data from 73 councils in England shows that the collective spend through DFGs has grown by over 25%, rising from £75,000,000 in 2009/10 to over £100,000,000 in 2018/19, as an increasing number of people use the grants to fund essential accessibility adaptations to their homes.
Of the councils who responded to the requests, Leeds City Council was found to spend the most on funding the grants, averaging £6,508,716 annually between 2009/10 and 2018/19. Manchester City Council followed in second place with an average spend of £4,654,900.
Wokingham Council had the lowest DFG annual spend on average at £397,948, based on data supplied between 2014/15 and 2018/19. Slough Borough Council took second place with an average spend of £489,476, followed by Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s £534,564.
Waltham Forest Council’s spend increased the most across the 10 financial years, jumping from £978,113 in 2009/10 to £2,052,908 in 2018/19. This shows a 109% increase, which correlates with the growth in the number of DFG applications the council received — up from 78 in 2009/10 to 372 in 2018/19.
In contrast, Hull County Council’s DFG spend had reduced by 42% between 2009/10 and 2018/19, dropping from £2,180,000 in to £1,247,000. However, the number of grants approved had roughly halved.
Overall, councils in the North West had the highest collective average spend over the ten financial years at £25,952,343, averaging at £1,853,738 per year.
However, councils in Yorkshire & The Humber are spending the most on DFGs on average, at £2,391,541 per year. Councils in the South East have the lowest average spend per year at £905,125, followed by Greater London with an average spend of £1,066,755.
DFGs approved by Sutton Council had the highest value, averaging at £13,751. At the other end of the scale, Milton Keynes Council spends the lowest amount on average, equalling £3,766 per grant.
Hollie-Anne Brooks, a respected journalist and a passionate campaigner for disability rights, became disabled a little over 12 months ago, and although she doesn't have first hand experience of the Disability Facilites Grant she has spoken with countless people who have had their lives changed for the better by the grants.
"Although I haven't personally applied for a DFG, I know full well the positive impact they can have on a person's life. Small changes matter a great deal and something that may seem minor can have such an enriching impact on the life of a disabled person - both from an accessibility point of view but also in terms of their mental health.
Though it's great that the money is available when people need to access it, one of the major problems we currently have with the grant is awareness. Although it's positive to see that spending across councils on DFG's generally seems to be increasing, it's critical that the people who need it most are aware that these life-changing grants are available to them."
Council DFG Spend
Most DFGs Issued
1. East Riding of Yorkshire Council – 1,587*
2. Leeds City Council – 917
3. Manchester City Council – 815
4. Liverpool City Council – 431
5. Wirral Council – 390** (2018/19 data not supplied)
*based on 6 years of data only, from 2013/14.
** 2018/19 data not supplied.
Fewest DFGs Issued
1. Sutton Council – 44
2. Merton Council – 61
3. Slough Borough Council – 62
4. London Borough of Redbridge – 74
5. Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead – 75
Highest DFG Spend on Average
1. Leeds City Council - £6,508,716
2. Manchester City Council - £4,654,900
3. Liverpool City Council - £4,523,800
4. Kirklees Council - £2,547,621
5. Wiltshire Council - £2,274,000
Lowest DFG Spend on Average
1. Wokingham Council - £397,948***
2. Slough Borough Council - £489,476
3. Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead - £534,564
4. Sutton Council - £601,991
5. London Borough of Lambeth - £609,355
***Based on the average spend for the data provided between 2014/15 and 2018/19.