Scheme of Assistance
The Scheme of Assistance (the Scheme) sets out what advice and support the council provides for adaptations to support people with disabilities in their homes.
Homeowners,including landlords, are responsible for maintaining and improving their homes. The council provides some advice and assistance to owners to help them with their responsibility.
Part 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 2006 replaced the system of improvement and repair grants set out in the 1987 and 2001 Housing (Scotland) Acts. The 2006 Act provided councils with powers to help owners repair, maintain, improve and adapt their homes by providing information, advice and practical help. These are the main ways the council helps owners under the Scheme. In November 2008, The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (Scheme of Assistance) Regulations 2008 were approved by the Scottish Parliament. These regulations introduced new duties and powers from 1 April 2009.
The council is committed to helping people remain in their own homes and in their own communities for as long as possible. Both private tenants and home owners are entitled to receive a grant for necessary major adaptations, as outlined below.
For people with disabilities the council offers various types of assistance and advice. The first point of contact should be Children and Families in Livingston, Broxburn or Bathgate or Adult Social Care Enquiries Team (see Appendix 1 contacts for details). We will consider if a needs assessment is required to identify what, if any, aids or adaptations may be required to support individuals and if they are eligible for these or any financial support e.g. a mandatory grant as detailed below.
Once an individual's needs have been assessed within the private home, which is their main residence and a care plan identifies a need for an aid or adaptation, within the terms of the Council's Eligibility Policy, funding known as a grant, may be available for essential adaptations.
Where the council is required (under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 or associated legislation) to fund adaptations by a grant this is known as a mandatory grant. All adaptations will be assessed as part of a needs assessment, but where those are not funded by mandatory grant the council may use its discretion to provide a grant to private home owners, or to fund the adaptation as part of an individual's care plan.
The council will:
- provide information and advice to help individual's return any adapted property to its original condition
- not fund any extra work that is assessed as being needed by a grant. For example, tiling more of the bathroom than assessed as being required will be for the individual to fund. Any extra work which is elected to be carried out must not change the suitability of any adaptation. Grants are not provided for higher specification or luxury materials, for large space standards or more desirable layouts than is necessary to meet assessed needs. This work may however be funded privately
- consider funding incidental works to a property as part of the approved works, where they may benefit an individual in the longer term and it is determined as the best way to meet the individual's foreseeable needs
- only provide a second grant within 10 years of the first, if that work was not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the first assessment
- offer information, advice and practical support to help an individual carry out additional work if this is the best way to meet an individual's assessed needs
- extra living accommodation e.g. bedroom work is ineligible for a mandatory grant. Assistance may include information about options to get funding for the work and practical help to oversee the work.
In the case of adaptations for disabled children the family's financial circumstances are taken into account to determine the percentage of grant awarded.
The council has a statutory obligation to register all grant awards on the titles to the property, the cost of which must be paid for by the applicant. The cost for registration is set by the Registers of Scotland and may vary, as at 1st November 2018 it is £60. The council may ask for this to be paid directly before the grant is awarded or deduct it from the sum of grant awarded to an individual.
To ensure that public funds are used effectively and for the purpose intended, the following statutory conditions apply to all grants for 10 years from the date the grant is paid:
- Condition A is that the house must be used as a private dwelling; but that does not prevent the use of part of the house as a shop or office or for business, trade or professional purposes.
- Condition B is that the house must not be occupied by the owner or a member of the owner's family (within the meaning of section 83 of the 1987 Act) except as that person's only or main residence.
- Condition C is that the owner of the land or premises must take all practicable steps to keep it in a good state of repair.
- Condition D is that the owner of the land or premises must, if required to do so by the local authority, certify that the conditions A to C are, in so far as they apply, being observed.
Any breach of grant conditions will result in the grant having to be repaid in full to the council. Any associated costs incurred by the council in recovering the grant will be applied to the final balance that is recovered.
The council will not provide the same adaptation again in the same property within a 10 year period unless:
- The need for the work to which the further application relates was not reasonably foreseeable when the original application was approved.
- It would not have been reasonably practicable to carry out that work at the same time as the work to which the original application related.
- That the work to which the further application relates was not considered by the local authority to be eligible for a grant or subsidised loan when the original application was approved.
- The application is made in response to an invitation from the authority to the applicant under section 90(1) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, i.e. work to improve energy efficiency and safety.
This type of grant will cover 80% or 100% of the total cost of the adaption and its associated expenses. The council will fund at least 80% of the cost of an adaptation which is deemed essential, for the provision of or for access to a standard amenity or if it is permanent or structural in nature. This will be in line with the Council's Eligibility Policy and further to a needs assessment.
If an individual or anyone in terms of s77 (2) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 e.g. applicant's spouse or civil partner is in receipt of any of the income benefits noted below then the council will fund 100% of the costs of the adaptation. Relevant income includes:
- Income Support
- Income based Jobseeker's allowance
- Pension credit (Guarantee element)/Guarantee Credit
- Employment support allowance (income related)
Persons in receipt of Universal Credit will be assessed in relation to individual circumstances and benefits.
The types of adaptations which may attract a grant include:
|Adaptation||Mandatory grant funded adaptations|
|Wet floor shower/bathroom extension||√|
Further to an Occupational Therapist's assessment other adaptations may be identified as necessary. Grant funding is generally available for major adaptations. In terms of the Council's Eligibility Policy and Contributions Policy smaller adaptations may be subject to a financial assessment and contribution. Adaptations such as rehanging doors, grab rails, banisters, hand rails etc may be subject to a financial contribution.
Further information about this will be provided by the Occupational Therapist who carries out an assessment, and the types of support that are available for individuals, regardless of their tenure.
If an adaptation requires grant funding authorisation will be sought as soon as possible for this by the occupational therapist/care assessor. Work to adapt a house without approval for a grant, may later mean that the council cannot provide a grant to fund the cost of the adaptation. The council requires documentation to prove ownership of the property. A grant is noted on the property's title for 10 years. Individuals are responsible for paying their 20% contribution directly to any contractor who carries out the adaptation work. Detailed advice will be provided on the grant process, if it is to be provided.
On completion of the agreed work the Grants Section will advise the Occupational Therapist to check the work meets the client's assessed need and may provide additional equipment to use with the adaptation.
Individual's who have difficulty in raising their contribution may request a review of their circumstances in terms of the Council's Review Process for Adult Social Care Charges.
Repairs & Maintenance
Ongoing servicing of an adaptation or maintainable equipment is not eligible for grant assistance. Support and information is provided on sourcing a suitable repair or maintenance provider when the adaptation is completed. Requests for assistance with servicing will be considered by social work services on a case by case basis with a referral to the West Lothian Advice Shop where appropriate, for example to assist with income maximisation or a benefits check.
People living in private rented property may require an adaptation to their property. They should contact the council and ask for a needs assessment in the first instance.
A landlord's permission for the adaptation may be required, and this is requested by the tenant. A landlord cannot unreasonably withhold permission for the adaptation. Information and advice will be provided to private tenants or their landlord to assist in the reinstatement of any property that has previously been adapted.
There are basic standards that apply to all private rented properties known as the Repairing Standard .
Tenants should contact their landlord further to being assessed as requiring an adaptation to their home.
Additional Living Accommodation
As stated above there is no funding available for the provision of additional living accommodation e.g. an additional downstairs bedroom. If it is agreed the best way to meet an individual's assessed needs is to provide additional living accommodation the council will provide information, advice and practical assistance to help the applicant carry out the work themselves or to try and find suitable alternative accommodation for them.
Where a property cannot be suitably adapted or where extra living accommodation is essential to that individual's needs, then the individual will be advised of this outcome after an assessment and grant funding may not be made available for adaptations.
A home may be assessed as being unsuitable in meeting an individual's needs for various reasons: it is not practicably possibly to do all required adaptations to meet the individual's needs; the amount of work required e.g. unreasonable expenditure/number of adaptations; length of time that adaptation may be practically used for by the individual. The assessment will take account of the use of adaptations to support longer term independent living.
Where the individual is eligible for support in terms of the Council's Eligibility Policy the council may offer alternative support and advice. This support may include but not be limited to:
- A mandatory grant to fund a standard amenity adaptation within a new home, to make it accessible to meet an eligible assessed need.
- Referral to appropriate Registered Social Landlord for application for shared equity housing.
- Referral to Housing Options Scotland to find an appropriate housing solution.
- Financial assessment with an income maximisation check from the West Lothian Advice Shop to check income.
Clients with moderate or low needs may be offered assistance as detailed above, but this will depend on their assessed needs and likely immediate future needs as determined by the Occupational Therapy/social work team who carry out the assessment.
If it is preferable for an individual to move to accommodation more suitable for their needs then there are various options available. For home owners, Housing Options Scotland (see Appendix 1) can provide advice and information on the choices available to people and help with the practical arrangements.
The Council's Housing Options Guide provides information on available council Housing and Housing Association properties within West Lothian.
Small Repairs Support
The council offers advice and assistance to help people repair, improve or adapt their homes so they can live in comfort and safety at home in their own community.
People over 60 and disabled people will be provided with support and assistance. The type of assistance the council may provide includes:
- Providing details of reputable contractors e.g. Trusted Traders
- Approaching other agencies for help e.g. West Lothian Advice Shop
The Occupational Therapy service provides support to private home owners providing signposting to existing services and guidance/assistance where appropriate.
Information and Advice
This scheme is about providing information and advice to homeowners to assist them to care for and repair their own property. Links to various documents available online are noted below and details for services in the council that may be able to help are noted here [67kb].
West Lothian Council information available online includes:
- Paying for Building Repairs and Maintenance [369kb]
- Organising Common Repairs [575kb]
- Building Maintenance, its your responsibility
- Identifying and Preventing Dampness and Condensation
- How to read your Title Deeds [464kb]
- Home Security for Pensioners
A broad range of advice and information to homeowners living in tenements or blocks of flats can be found on Under One Roof - www.underoneroof.scot. Advice on property condition can also apply to individual homes.
The council provides general housing advice, advice on benefits and energy efficiency at the Advice Shop. Environmental Health can provide information on home condition and standards, common repairs and addressing housing disrepair.
Financial Assistance and Loans
Homeowners should contact their own lenders, other financial institutions or a financial adviser for help and advice. West Lothian Advice Shop can also be contacted for advice.
Assistance for Common Repairs
The maintenance and repair of many building is shared between all the owners. In a situation where a group of owners has to carry out repairs the council may be able to provide advice or support from Building Standards or Environmental Health. If a repair is a joint responsibility then it is simplest if the responsible owners can agree between themselves how to proceed. The council can offer to provide some practical help in relation to common works:
- relating to the Council's own Investment Programme in relation to council houses and where an owner's property would logically be part of a Council proposed project - contact us here.
- where the property is in disrepair or substandard, see Environmental Health information
- where the property is in presents a danger to the public or other immediate properties, see Building Standards information.
The majority of owners within a building can agree to carry out maintenance or repairs under:
- Chapter 6 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, or
- the Tenement Management Scheme of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004
The council provides advice and support to owners wanting to carry out repairs and maintenance themselves however it does not provide financial assistance or pay missing shares for absent owners. Further information and advice is available from Environmental Health..
The Council owns properties within buildings with other homeowners, meaning it shares the responsibility for common repairs. In some buildings the Council will own all or most of the properties.
As part of maintaining its own properties the council carries out works to repair and maintain those, which may include common areas such as the roof or cladding to a building. Where the council carries out works, which are a common or shared responsibility/cost they will seek to agree with other homeowners the programme of works and cost before proceeding with works. These properties are referred to as mixed tenure (ownership) estates and the Council's Housing Capital Programme (updated annually) details the types of work that have been identified as being required to maintain Council properties.
The Council may also carry out works in buildings where it is the property factor, in which case the Council's Written Statement of Property Factors will apply and the cost of any work will be shared accordingly.
Efforts are made to discuss any programme of works that may affect other owners, and to recover any shared liability for the cost of works prior to them being completed. All reasonable efforts will be made to recover costs for works, and the Council's Corporate Debt Policy will apply.
Where possible the council will seek to exclude private homeowners from common repairs or works, in some circumstances though this may not be possible due to the nature of the works nor of benefit to the building in the longer term.
The council has statutory powers to serve notices where a home is in disrepair, as noted below. The council's approach to supporting and advising homeowners is detailed below.
Repair and Improvement
Where a house is in disrepair the council will encourage and assist the homeowner(s) to resolve matters informally. This is to make them aware of the condition of the home and remind them of their responsibilities in relation to repair and maintenance.
If an owner fails to take action to rectify and carry out the advised repairs then formal enforcement action may be used including service of statutory notices. The council will only use statutory enforcement powers when deemed necessary and where an informal approach has failed.. The council will consider what actions the homeowner has taken to maintain and invest in their home and any historical importance of preserving the property before considering whether it is appropriate to take action, failing works being carried out by a homeowner.
Environmental Health's Enforcement Policy [331kb] provides more information on the approach to enforcement.
The council has legislative powers under a number of pieces of legislation to serve a notice (a statutory notice) on a homeowner requiring them to carry out work or resolve a problem. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Work notice under s30 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006;
- Defective Building Notice s28 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003;
- Dangerous Building Notice s29 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003;
- Abatement Notice under S80 under the Environmental Protection Act 1990;
- Notice on occupier or owner of infected etc. premises or things under Part 5 of the Public health (Scotland) Act 2008; and
- Defective Drainage notice under s15 of the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968.
Owners may appeal against the serving of a Statutory Notice. Where a homeowner fails to comply with a statutory notice to carry out work or resolve a problem, the council may, depending on the legislation used:
- take no action;
- report the matter to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to criminal prosecution;
- serve fixed penalty notices; or
- carry out works or other actions to comply with the notice and recover the costs and expenses.
No financial assistance is available to homeowners. Advice can be sought from Environmental Health or the West Lothian Advice Shop/Citizens Advice Bureau.
Closure and Demolition of Homes
The council has statutory powers to prevent homes from being occupied or for them to be demolished where the home:
- does not meet the statutory 'Tolerable Standard' and 'ought to be demolished;
- is in a Housing Renewal Area and has been identified for demolition; or
- is viewed to be dangerous to occupy under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.
Where a property fails to meet the Tolerable Standard, officers will make a report to the Council Executive recommending the making of a Demolition Order. Where the home forms only part of a building a Closing Order preventing habitation will be recommended. Only if one or more statutory notices requiring the owner to bring the house up to the Tolerable Standard are not complied with will the Demolition or Closing order be pursued. No financial assistance is available to homeowners.
Advice can be sought from Environmental Health or the West Lothian Advice Shop/Citizens Advice Bureau.
Where it is established that an area has a significant number of houses which are sub-standard or that the appearance or state of repair of any houses are adversely affecting the amenity of that area, West Lothian Council may consider declaring a Housing Renewal Area with the purpose of improving that area. The council will as above work with homeowners to support improvements to homes, and support repairs.
Where a house is in a Housing Renewal Area and included in a relevant action plan as a house, which the council considers being in a state of serious disrepair and ought to be demolished the council may require the owner of the house to demolish it by the serving of a demolition notice.
When considering whether an area is to be declared West Lothian Council will consult with the owners and representative groups within that area in order to:
a) advise on how such an Area operates and what it will mean for that particular area;
b) agree on the boundary of the area to be included;
c) agree on an appropriate action plan that will ensure that any agreed works can be carried out; and
d) advise on what assistance, if any, can be provided.
The statutory process is set out in Schedule 1, Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 .
There are various organisations which can provide advice on:
- Heating use
- Negotiating with your fuel supplier
- Billing issues
- Tariff comparison checks
- Insulation and grants
- Home energy efficiency
Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland - HEEPS
The HEEPS Area Based Scheme is a Scottish Government funded programme of energy efficiency measures. They want to make sure that everyone in Scotland, who needs help with their energy costs, is able to save money and keep cosy. Under HEEPS, help can be given to cut bills and make a home warmer.
Whether working, retired or receiving benefits they can provide free energy advice and help by carrying out a free, personalised home energy check.
For more information see here or the HEEPS website
West Lothian Trusted Trader allows consumers to search for a reputable trader. Consumers can access comments from previous customers and can provide their own feedback through a Comments and Ratings form. Any traders joining the scheme are required to sign up to a code of practice agreeing to trade fairly. Trading Standards monitor their business practices. Trading Standards can offer assistance in the event of complaints through their Dispute Resolution Service.
We welcome comments on our Scheme of Assistance, please send these to:
Head of Housing, Customer and Building Services or Head of Social Policy at West Lothian Council, Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, EH54 6FF.
The council is strongly committed to equal opportunities. Equality measures have been incorporated into the Scheme of Assistance, including:
- Providing advice and assistance to any homeowner who needs it, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the most vulnerable including those who are physically, mentally, culturally or financially disadvantaged
- Ensuring that literature is available when required in Braille, large print, on CD and in the main community languages spoken.
- Translation services are available when requested.
- Providing an interpreter when needed.
- Ensuring that our services are accessible to all communities by engaging with community groups and attending external events.
- Regularly reviewing, consulting upon and monitoring our services to ensure that they are non-discriminatory.