The scheme of assistance for house repairs and adaptations

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

This information applies to Scotland only.

What is the scheme of assistance

The scheme of assistance is a system of financial and non-financial help that local authorities can provide for private housing which:

  • is in disrepair or below the tolerable standard, or

  • needs to be adapted because a person is disabled.

Financial help under the scheme can include grants or loans. Non-financial help can include information, advice and, in some cases, practical help to homeowners. Each local authority decides what form of non-financial help it provides in which circumstances.

By law, a scheme of assistance mustn't discriminate against a person because of their age, physical or cognitive impairment, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. In addition, a local authority may have policies which don't allow other types of discrimination.

What help is available

All local authorities must provide help:

  • to adapt a house to make it suitable for a disabled person to occupy. If the adaptations are to help a person access standard amenities, this assistance must be a grant

  • to reinstate an adapted house - in this case, the local authority must provide a grant

  • to an owner who has been served a statutory notice or work order, although this might be information, advice and practical help, not financial help.

For all other repairs, each local authority can decide whether to provide financial or non-financial help. Each local authority must publish a scheme of assistance statement which sets out what financial and non-financial help is available in that area. You should be able to find this on your local authority's website. 

This statement must include information about:

  • any upper limits on the cost of repair and improvement works covered by grants or loans

  • the rate of interest charged on any loans

  • any other charges made in relation to any loans.

Grants for home adaptations if you're disabled

All local authorities must provide a grant to help adapt a house to allow a disabled person to access standard amenities such as a toilet, bath, shower or sink. Grants should also be available to reinstate a house which has been adapted. 

You can also apply for a grant to help with the cost of adaptations to common parts of your building, to make them more suitable for your disability. The council is likely to require you to have an assessment of your needs by an occupational therapist, to decide if the changes are essential, and eligible for a grant. There's a guide to adapting common parts on the Scottish Government website

The minimum level of grant is 80% of the eligible cost.

If you receive any of the following benefits, you can get 100% of the eligible cost:

  • Income Support

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • guarantee credit part of Pension Credit

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Universal Credit.

A local authority has the discretion to pay a grant of more than 80% of the eligible cost to someone who isn't legally entitled to 100%. The circumstances in which a local authority can do this should be outlined in its scheme of assistance statement.

Work on a house extension to provide extra living accommodation for a disabled person doesn't qualify for a statutory grant unless the work is to provide standard amenities like a toilet or bathroom facilities. You should refer to your local authority to find out about discretionary grants for a house extension for a disabled person.

A local authority mustn't apply a fixed upper limit on the cost of adaptation works covered by a grant. The only limit is that provided by the assessment of the disabled person's need, which will set out what work is required to meet the need.

The Scottish Government has produced the following leaflets with information about adapting a house for a disabled person:

Help with statutory repairs

If you've been served a statutory notice or order to repair, maintain or improve a property you own, the local authority must provide help, but not necessarily financial help. The local authority may provide information, advice and/or practical help instead. 

You should check the scheme of assistance statement to see if you can apply for financial help. The local authority can decide whether to accept or reject your application.

Help with non-statutory repairs

Local authorities don't have a duty to provide a grant for non-statutory repairs and improvements, such as replacing lead pipes. However, they have the power to give a grant in any circumstances they choose. You should check the circumstances in which your local authority might consider a grant for repairs or improvements. This will be outlined in the scheme of assistance statement. 

If the local authority gives a grant, it will decide what's a reasonable cost for the work. This is called the approved expense. The local authority can set an upper limit, called the eligible expense limit. 

Applying for help with house repairs or adaptations

Owners and, in some circumstances, private tenants can apply to the scheme of assistance. 

Before you apply, you should refer to your local council's scheme of assistance statement for information on what help is available in your area. 

To apply to the scheme of assistance, you will need to fill in an application form. You can pick up the form at your local housing office or download it from your council's website.

If you need any help with your application, you should consult an experienced adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.