North Norfolk District Council (21 006 006)

Category : Adult care services > Disabled facilities grants

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 07 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains the Council hasn’t properly considered the terms and conditions of a Disabled Facilities Grant. The Council is not at fault.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr X, complains the Council hasn’t properly considered the terms and conditions of a Disabled Facilities Grant because it has:
    • Not applied a sliding scale in respect of repayments;
    • Unreasonably charged him the £10k repayment sum; and
    • Failed to properly consider waiving the £10k repayment.
  2. Mr X says he has been asked to repay too much and is out of pocket.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. When considering complaints, if there is a conflict of evidence, we make findings based on the balance of probabilities. This means that we will weigh up the available relevant evidence and base our findings on what we think was more likely to have happened.
  3. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I spoke to Mr X about his complaint. I made enquiries of the Council and considered its response and the supporting documents it provided.
  2. Mr X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

What happened?

  1. Mr X received a disabled facilities grant (DFG) from the Council in 2012. He later moved home in 2020. The Council required Mr X to repay £10,000 of the DFG.
  2. Mr X complained the Council had not properly considered his circumstances when it required repayment. The Council did not uphold Mr X’s complaint.


Sliding scale

  1. Mr X says the Council told him verbally that it used a sliding scale when determining how much it should recover. There is no other evidence to show this.
  2. The Council says it has never applied a sliding scale in respect of repayments applicable to Disabled Facilities Grants.
  3. The approval letter explaining the terms and conditions of the DFG do not contain any reference to a sliding scale as stated by Mr X.
  4. In an email to Mr X, the Council clarified its stage one complaint response and explained how under different circumstances the repayment expected could appear to be a sliding scale.
  5. On the balance of probabilities, the Council did not say it would apply a sliding scale in the event that it sought to recover part of the DFG. I do not consider this to be fault by the Council.


  1. Documents approving the DFG in 2019 and 2020 show the terms stated, “If you dispose of the property (whether by sale, assignment, transfer or otherwise) within 10 years of the certified completion of the works North Norfolk District Council may demand repayment (with interest from the certified date) of such part of the grant that exceeds £5,000 but may not demand an amount in excess of £10,000.”
  2. The Council has acted in accordance with the terms of the DFG. I do not consider this to be fault by the Council.


  1. Documents provided by the Council show:
    • When considering whether it should seek to recover part of the DFG in November 2020, the primary consideration of the Council was related to financial hardship.
    • When Mr X challenged the Council’s initial decision to recover the maximum amount it sought legal advice as to what it needed to consider.
    • The legal advice said the Council needed to consider other circumstances in addition to financial hardship.
  2. The additional circumstances the Council should have considered are:
    • whether the disposal of the property is to enable the recipient of the grant to take up employment, or to change the location of his/her employment
    • whether the disposal is made for reasons connected with the physical or mental health or well being of the recipient of the grant or of a disabled occupant of the property; and
    • whether the disposal is made to enable the recipient of the grant to live with, or near, any person who is disabled or infirm and in need of care, which the recipient of the grant is intending to provide, or who is intending to provide care of which the recipient of the grant is in need by reason of disability or infirmity.”
  3. Following the legal advice, the Council’s complaint responses show it considered these points, together with supporting evidence from Mr X.
  4. Mr X does not agree with the outcome, but this is a decision the Council was entitled to make. This is not fault by the Council.

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Final decision

  1. I have not found fault by the Council. I have now completed my investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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