Councils in the north of England spend the most on making accessibility adaptations to people’s homes while authorities in the south tend to spend much less.
That’s according to a freedom of information request (full list below), which has revealed Leeds City Council to be the authority which spends the most on Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and issues the second highest amount of the grants.
DFGs are provided by councils to individuals so they can make changes to their homes and install ramps, stairlifts and adaptable bathrooms.
Information uncovered by interior design firm A Wood Idea reveals that council funding through DFGs is at a 10-year high. In October Philip Hammond announced that an additional £55m would be pumped into the DFGs in England in 2018-19.
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.
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. Wirral Council – 390
5. Sheffield City Council – 368
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. Kirklees Council – £2,547,621
4. Wiltshire Council – £2,274,000
5. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council – £2,153,352
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
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 total spend over the ten financial years at £21,428,543, averaging at £1,648,349 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 journalist and a campaigner for disability rights, said that although she has not personally applied for a DFG, she knows the positive impact they can have on people’s lives.
“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.”