You may be able to get help towards the cost of your kitchen, or any equipment you need. But this is likely to depend on your disability and on your income. Read on for details of options.
Taking out a loan
If you need to make structural changes to your kitchen or buy expensive equipment you may need to borrow. Your bank or building society will tell you about borrowing against your home. Some offer interest-only loans to older people - you pay back the interest regularly but the amount you've borrowed doesn't have to be repaid until your home is sold.
Help from your local authority
What's available and who qualifies depends on local policies. But generally if you're having difficulty with day-to-day tasks at home, you may be entitled to a free assessment. Usually this will be carried out by an Occupational Therapist (OT). They'll visit you at home and assess your needs and can advise you about products and adaptations to your home that will help you. This assessment is worth having even if the social services don't provide any equipment - OTs can advise you on ways of doing things as well as on aids which might help. Waiting lists can be long. To start the ball rolling contact the social services department in England and Wales, the Social Work Department in Scotland and the Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland. Or ask your GP to do this.
After the assessment the social services department may provide any equipment or alterations they recommend, or may tell you where to go for them. They may ask you to pay towards the cost of anything they provide - policies vary. However, if you really can't afford something the assessment shows you need, your local authority will find a way of making sure you get it.
You can also get an OT's advice through agencies such as Disabled Living Centres and local Care & Repair Schemes Foundations can provide you with details of those in your area, and you can avoid queues by paying for a private assessment. To find an OT near you contact
College of Occupational Therapists
106-114 Borough High Street
London SE1 1LB
Tel: 020 7357 6480
Fax: 020 7450 2299
If you do get an assessment from social services, they should tell you about any grants available. Otherwise get in touch with the renovation grants section of your local authority.
If you have to have building work done, you may be able to get a grant from your local authority. Again this depends on your income and you'll have to give details of your financial circumstances. The following details apply to England and Wales, but similar grants exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
If your home needs major work because it's unfit in any way (if the wiring is dangerous, for example) and your income is below a certain level, councils in England and Wales may cover the cost of any work done.
Disabled Facilities Grant
If you're disabled and have a low income, you may qualify for a grant towards the cost of making alterations which are needed to make it easier for you to get into your home, moving around in it or use basic amenities such as the kitchen and bathroom. This usually involves an assessment. Smaller grants may also be available for non-essential adaptations.
Home Repair Assistance
This is a discretionary grant (local authorities do not have to provide it) for smaller improvements and repairs. You or your partner must be getting an income-related benefit to qualify unless you are elderly or disabled, or if you are adapting your home so that an elderly person (over the age of 60) can live with you.
Grants from other organisations
Some organisations for people with disabilities give grants if you can't afford equipment you need. Your library will have directories which cover these funds and Foundations may also be able to advise. If you're elderly, Charity Search will tell you about charities that may help with money or in other ways.
You don't have to pay VAT on products which are designed solely for disabled people. There's no VAT to pay on installation and some building costs as long as these are for changes solely for the benefit of a disabled person. You don't have to be registered as disabled. Simply, declare your disability in writing when you buy the goods. See VAT leaflet 701/7/94 from your nearest Customs and Excise Office. Most kitchen equipment is not exempt, but check with your supplier.
Other help with money
The benefits system is complicated. Contact your local social security office for details of any benefits you may be entitled to. There is a free Benefit enquiry line for disabled people and their carers.
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