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Agenda item

Disabled Adaptations Policy

(Report of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning)


The Chair welcomed the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, Councillor S Smith and the Assistant Director, Assets, Paul Weston to present the report of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning on the Disabled Adaptations Policy to review and consider the proposed draft Housing Assistance Policy (for the delivery of Mandatory and Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants) prior to submission to Cabinet for full approval and adoption, before handing over to the Portfolio Holder.


The Portfolio Holder highlighted that the Housing Grants, construction, and Regeneration Act 1996 is the main piece of relevant legislation around this piece of work. The Council do not currently have a policy on place. It was noted that the policy affects the most vulnerable in society before handing over to the Assistant Director, Assets who highlighted the following –


Ø  In the absence of a Housing Assistance Policy the Council have been delivering grants through the mandatory grant process which places a cap on grants at £30000 and has no option for discretionary grants or alternatives to providing grants.

Ø  The Policy, whilst recognising that the Council has a limited budget provided by Government via County through the Better Care Fund through County(there is no new money attached), takes into account the caps on grants which was set in 2008 that has not changed in line with rising costs and allows for the Council to offer a Top up Grant of up to £25000.

Ø  As there is no additional funding the additional grants could reduce the amount of grants awarded overall.

Ø  The Professional Fees Grant will help cover costs for grant applications that do not progress or where they do and that the costs would have been recovered from the grant itself.

Ø  The Help to Move grant would allow applicants to seek alternative accommodation where adapting the property will not suit their needs.

Ø  Means-testing of grants will continue.

Ø  Passporting, eligibility and timings remain in line with the statutory process.

Ø  This is purely for grants; this does not apply to Council tenants however it does apply to private renting tenants and tenants of Social Housing Providers as this is the way the legislation is written.


The Committee made the following comments/observations and asked the following questions:


1.     Do we have any data around why some grants do not go through and was this due to lack of support?

The Officer confirmed that data is captured however this was not available at the meeting but there were several reasons for this, such as people passing away, moving out of the area, moving into care or with family, or not fitting in to the criteria for the grants. And whilst people can make direct applications, generally the process is set up to support people end to end.

2.     Clarification around third-party applications? Would an adult child making an application on behalf of parents be mean tested?

The third-party application covers when someone is making an application on behalf of the applicant. The applicant may not always be the recipient of the works. This can complicate the process around who is being assessed and this would depend on where the parent is living, i.e. if the parent is living with adult children who own the property. The aim is to protect the Council where they complete work on a family members property for them then to ask the recipient to leave.

3.     Whether any work was being done around other areas of the County that may receive surplus funding when Boroughs such as Tamworth don’t receive enough? And whether the recommendation made to Cabinet from the committee to Lobby Government in this area had progressed?

The Officer confirmed that there are some districts that have greater demand than funder and some that have surplus funding. As would be expected authorities look to protect their budgets and any surplus funds are often in a different way if it is written in a policy such as this.

Representations have been made to Government on numerous occasions and a review was expected but this hasn’t happened yet so have to make assumptions based on expected funding through the allocations process.

The Portfolio Holder agree to double check on the progress of this and follow up with the Committee.

4.     If an applicant has an occupation health assessment what are the timescales to go through the process?

The Officer confirmed that this is a statutory process and the Council have 6 months to approve the application and a further 6 months to supply pay out the funds. If the Council is managing the process there is a waiting list for applications being started (Which is approached in date order) however this may not be longer overall as the Council is managing the process overall.

5.     Would more manpower within house reduce the timescales?

The officer confirmed that staffing costs are part of the overall project and that with current funding, additional resource would come out of the budget meaning that whilst applications could be processed quicker, they would run out of funding sooner and has less money to manage the process and complete the works. The Officer confirmed that that they can only work within the resource that they have available. It would require an additional funding resource to deliver at both ends of the process.

6.     The Committee expressed concerns at the wait times associated with the process particularly where someone has been assessed as requiring the adaptations to live safely.

The Portfolio Holder confirmed that these were maximum waiting times and asked whether the committee wanted to see what the average wait times had been historical?

The Chair confirmed that this would be helpful but more importantly would like to understand what risk assessment is done for the time whilst people are waiting for their application to be assessed and where does the liability lie if someone is discharged from hospital or at home and assessed as needing adaptations who is liable whilst they are waiting for an application to be  processed if anything were to happen to them.

The Officer confirmed that the Council has an obligation to fund grants and complete the application within the statutory guidelines, the Council does not have the Health and Safety responsibility throughout the process,

7.     Clarification around the prioritisation process?

Currently there is no prioritisation process applications are progressed in date order.

The new policy does allow for some prioritisation, however within the categories, these will still have to be prioritised in date order, as where a number of applicants are assessed as urgent there must be a process to work through these. Due to the prioritisation this could result in lower priority applicants moving down the list.

8.     Committee highlighted it would be useful to see information around waiting times for DFG’s for the last year, more information around prioritisation along with what arrangements are in place to support people during waiting times and a recommendation was moved to:




By the Committee:




 to defer the recommendations and asked for report to be bought back to the Committee at the extra meeting of the Committee on the 4th March 2024 with greater clarity on what arrangements are in place during the waiting period and more information around the prioritisation of applications.




The Chair thanks the Officers and invited them to leave the meeting.

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