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Council Offers Home Improvement Grants

21st December 2008

The credit crunch may be biting but The Highland Council has cash grants available to assist with home improvements, adaptations and repairs.

Home improvement and repair grants are available to help people living in owner-occupied or privately-rented housing to meet the costs of having their homes improved, repaired or adapted. Most grants are at the discretion of the Council and almost all are means-tested. A small number of grants are, under certain conditions, mandatory and the Council is obliged to approve these.

Discretionary improvement grants can be awarded for improvements to existing houses to bring them up to the tolerable standard, e.g. by installing bathroom facilities, dealing with structural instability, or eradication of severe dampness. They may also be available to make houses suitable for occupants with disabilities, e.g. level access showers, ramps, stair lifts or purpose built extensions to accommodate a ground floor bedroom or bathroom.

Discretionary repair grants can be awarded for work to both the internal and external fabric of a house e.g. repairs to roof or walls, eradication of rot or replacing rotten window frames which could be affecting the structure and for replacing lead piping or reducing exposure to radon gas.

The following are examples of works that may attract grant:
- Works to bring the house up to the statutory Tolerable Standard by the provision of standard amenities, dealing with structural instability or eradication of severe dampness.
- Alteration and enlargement, where this is necessary to provide adequate kitchen or bathroom facilities, or to meet the needs of a disabled person.
- Replacement of unsafe electrical wiring.
- Installation of mains powered smoke detectors
- Provision of adequate heating systems (only when other works are being carried out).
- Provision of adequate thermal insulation (only when other works are being carried out).
- Works required to make the house suitable for the accommodation, welfare or employment of a disabled occupant e.g. level access showers, ramps, stair lifts or purpose built extensions to accommodate a ground floor bathroom or bedroom.
- Works of repair to both the internal and external fabric of a house which are necessary to maintain the useful life of the property e.g. repairs to walls, roofs, eradication of rot or replacement of rotten window frames which could be affecting the structure.
- The replacement of water supply pipes which are made of lead.
- Works intended to reduce exposure to radon gas.
- In buildings in common ownership, the provision of a fire retardant entrance door and a main door entry phone system

A grant scheme has also been introduced by the Government to financially assist people if their private water supply requires improvement. This is a health driven initiative as poor water quality can cause illness in the community. The introduction of a simple private water supply treatment system can protect people from water borne illness such as e-coli O157 infection.
Grants of up to 800 are available from The Highland Council to help improve a private water supply. The Grant Scheme is non-means tested and applicants may be eligible for financial assistance if:
- the home or business is served by a private water supply;
- the private water supply is the main or sole source of water for human consumption to these premises; and
- the private water supply is in need of improvement to bring it up to modern standards.

If an applicant shares their supply with a number of neighbouring premises they may wish to consider making a joint application. A joint application can be submitted in respect of all the premises served by the supply, by the applicant and the other owners or occupiers acting together. In the majority of cases, a joint approach is likely to provide the most effective long term solution to improve the water quality.

Further information on any of the above grants may be obtained by contacting a local Council Environmental Health office or visiting the Council's web site


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