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Advice Column: Home Improvements

Can I get help from the council to improve my home?

A local authority can offer different types of help with home improvements.

To find out if you can get help with home improvements and the help available in your area, contact your local authority. Your local authority may give you help to:-

  • adapt, improve, or repair your home. This could be in the form of a grant or loan. It could be by providing labour, tools, or cheap materials to help you carry out the work. It could be by providing details of builders who can carry out the work, or by providing free or low cost surveys, or advice on carrying out repairs; or
  • buy a new home if it decides that this would be a better way of improving your living conditions than carrying out work on your current home. The help could be in the form of a grant or loan; or
  • buy a new home, if it has decided to buy your current home. The help could be in the form of a grant or loan; or
  • demolish your home, or build a new home for you, if your previous home has been demolished. The help could be in the form of a grant or loan.

If you, or someone that you live with, are disabled, you may be able to get a disabled facilities grant for adaptations or providing facilities for the disabled person.

Your rights when you apply for help with home improvements

Your local authority will have its own rules about the conditions you must meet in order to get help. For example, its rules might say you cannot get a grant if your savings are over a certain limit. Although your local authority can have its own rules, there are certain things that it must or must not do when it provides help with home improvements. Your local authority must have rules about help with home improvements, but it cannot have rules which are completely rigid or unreasonable. For example, it cannot say it will never give any grants, and it must take your individual circumstances into account if you apply for help.

When you apply for help with home improvements your local authority must:-

  • make sure that a copy of its rules are available to look at at its main office; and
  • make sure it follows its own rules when you ask for help; and
  • give you written information about terms and conditions under which it will help you (before it helps you); and
  • make sure you have had the right advice and information about any responsibilities you will have if it helps you; and
  • take into account your ability to pay towards any help it offers you, before you have to pay anything; and
  • get your consent before carrying out any works on your home, if you are a home-owner; and
  • get the consent of everyone who is likely to be affected, if it decides to change work it has agreed to help with; and
  • get your consent before it changes any of the conditions you must meet in order to get help. For example, if it offers you a grant on the condition that you pay £500 towards the cost of repairs, but it wants to increase this amount to £1000, it has to get your consent first.

If you would like help with applying for home improvements, you can consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a local Citizens Advice.

If you rent your home

If you rent your home and apply to your local authority for help with home improvements, you will need to get your landlord’s permission before the local authority will agree to help you. If you’re disabled and the changes are to do with your disability, your landlord should not refuse permission unless he has a good reason. In some cases, your landlord may be responsible for making the changes.

If your home is in need of repair, your landlord may have to do the repairs you need.

Payment of grants and loans

Generally, a local authority does not have to pay a grant or loan within any particular time limit. However, if your local authority’s own rules set a time limit, it must pay you within this time limit.

Carlisle City Council Discretionary Housing Grants for Home Improvements are available for heating, repairs, gas safety, boiler servicing and energy efficiency measures, helping you maintain your home and to improve your health and well-being.

They can also make referrals to energy suppliers for eligible residents under the governments Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Scheme.

If you own an empty property, you may qualify for financial assistance and tax breaks for returning the empty property back into occupation.

For more information please contact 01228 817111 or email