Grants and funding

Disabled facilities grant

The disabled facilities grant (DFG) is a capital grant paid from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to local authorities in England to adapt older and disabled people’s homes to help them to live independently and safely. Adaptations can include ramps, stair lifts and suitable heating systems. The DFG, which has run for more than 30 years, became part of the Better Care Fund (BCF) in April 2015.

The DFG aims to support disabled and older people to be independent, enabling carers to continue their role safely, preventing accidents and helping people to return from hospital. It therefore crosses the boundaries between housing, health and social care and reflects the increasing national focus on the integration of housing with health and social care services.

Since the DFG became part of the BCF there has been a significant increase in central government resources. In 2014/15 central government provided £220 million through the grant, but by 2017/18 this had almost doubled to £431 million in total and for 2020/21 is £573 million. Responsibility for funding the DFG is now held by the Department of Health and Social Care. The MHCLG continues to lead on policy and the distribution of funding.

Improved Better Care Fund (iBCF)

The improved Better Care Fund (iBCF) grant was announced in the 2015 Spending Review and was introduced from 2017/18 onwards. The grant provides local government with new funding for adult social care and must be pooled alongside the clinical commissioning group and DFG funding in the BCF. The original funding was increased by £2 billion in total from 2017/18 to 2019/20 in the 2017 March Budget, rising to an annual allocation of £1.837 billion by 2019/20.

In 2020/21, the £240 million winter pressures grant was combined with the iBCF. The value of the iBCF in 2020/21 was £2.077 billion.

The fund is paid directly to local government and must be used to support social care activity.

Purpose of the iBCF

The iBCF is passed to local authorities with social care responsibilities as a Section 31 grant, with conditions. The grant determination in 2020/21 requires the money to be used only for the purposes of:

  • meeting adult social care needs
  • reducing pressures on the NHS, including seasonal winter pressures
  • supporting more people to be discharged from hospital when they are ready
  • ensuring that the social care provider market is supported.

Conditions were placed that a recipient local authority must:

  • pool the grant funding into the local BCF, unless the authority has written ministerial exemption
  • work with the relevant CCG and providers to meet National condition 4 (managing transfers of care) in the Integration and BCF policy framework and planning requirements 2017/19
  • provide quarterly reports as required by the Secretary of State.

Winter pressures funding 

In 2019/20, the government set a condition that the grant determination for winter pressures funding must be pooled into BCF plans, and specified that the grant must be used to support the local health and care system to manage demand pressures on the NHS with particular reference to seasonal winter pressures. This includes interventions that support people to be discharged from hospital, who would otherwise be delayed, with the appropriate social care support in place, and which help promote people’s independence.

In their BCF plans, local systems should set out the agreed approach to use of the winter pressures grant, including how the funding will be utilised to ensure that capacity is available in winter to support safe discharge and admissions avoidance. Details of planned schemes and expenditure should be confirmed in the annual planning template and reporting on the grant should go through the main BCF process. The money is paid directly to local government via a Local Government Act 2003 section 3 grant. The funding does not replace, and must not be offset against, the NHS minimum contribution to adult social care.