Taken From: http://www.batchelors.co.uk/

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Disabled and Housebound? Consult a Solicitor to Enforce Your Rights!

If you are physically disabled and your local authority is refusing to cover the cost of necessary adaptations to your home, you should consult a lawyer straight away. In one case, a judge boosted a wheelchair-dependant woman’s hopes of ending months of effective imprisonment in her home.

DoorThe woman, aged in her 60s, had endured health difficulties for many years and her right leg had been amputated above the knee. Her husband was also in poor health and she could not get in or out of her front door unless her two sons lifted her from her wheelchair and carried her up and down a flight of steps to street level. Apart from access to her back garden via a ramp, she had for a year or more been almost entirely prevented from leaving her home.

She applied under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 for a disabled facilities grant (DFG) to cover the more than £23,000 cost of installing a platform lift so that she could remain in her home, to which she was emotionally attached. However, her local council, which was also her landlord under a secure tenancy, refused her application, saying that her home was unsuitable for her. It offered to find her alternative accommodation which would be better adapted to her needs.

Ruling on her judicial review challenge to the council’s decision, the judge noted that Section 23(1) of the Act states that, save in certain circumstances, local authorities must approve DFGs in respect of works to facilitate a disabled person’s access to his or her home. That requirement is mandatory where the works are necessary and appropriate to meet a disabled person’s needs, and are reasonable and practicable having regard to the age and condition of the relevant property.

The judge found that the reasons given by the council did not provide a lawful basis for refusing the DFG application. The platform lift was necessary, in the sense that a conventional stair lift would not meet the woman’s needs, and appropriate in that it would enable her to enter and exit her home using her wheelchair. It had also not been established that it would be unreasonable or impracticable to carry out the works. The council was given 10 weeks in which to reconsider the woman’s application in the light of the judge’s ruling.

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