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The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has written an open letter to Local authority Chief Executives across England to announce that £505 million will be made available for the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) in 2020-21.

Local authority Chief Executives in Unitary Authorities, Metropolitan Borough Councils, County Councils and London Boroughs (including the City of London) were all written to in the open letter.

The DFG is capital funding which helps people to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible through the provision of essential home adaptations, which includes equipment like grab rails, access ramps, stairlifts, through-the-floor lifts and door widening.

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Confirmed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the funding will be allocated to local authorities in England in May, with the letter providing a full breakdown of how the money will be allocated to each local authority. This also includes indicative allocations for each district council in the two-tier areas.

The MHCLG states that where agreed locally (and in two-tier areas with the express agreement of district councils), a portion of the grant may also be used for wider social care capital projects.

Written by Cathy Page, Deputy Director for the Housing Support Division at the MHCLG, she says in the letter: “In two-tier areas the main DFG funding will be paid to the Upper-Tier authorities (county councils), while the statutory duty to provide adaptations to the homes of those eligible people who qualify, continues to sit with local housing authorities (district councils).”

This latest funding supports the Government’s aims of helping local authorities to assist elderly and disabled people to live independently and safely in their own homes for longer.

In the past, there have been calls by various organisations for the Government to increase DFG funding. Last year, Freedom of Information Requests submitted on behalf of A Wood Idea revealed that council funding through DFGs was at a 10-year high due to an increasing number of people needing vital home adaptations.

With councils spending more on DFGs, it highlights a lack of accessible and suitable homes across England for elderly and disabled people.

Following this notion, earlier this month, the Home Adaptations Consortium wrote a letter to Matt Hancock MP pledging for support for an increase in funding for the DFG in the upcoming March 2020 Budget.

Now, the Government has made £505 million available for the DFG for 2020-21.

To read the full breakdown of the new DFG funding for local authorities in England, visit: https://www.foundations.uk.com/media/6266/dfg-allocations.pdf

Read the letter in full below:


Dear Local Authority Chief Executives,

I am pleased to inform you that £505 million will be made available for the DFG in 2020-21, which has been confirmed to us by the Department of Health and Social Care. This is in recognition of Government’s continued support to local authorities to help older and disabled people to live independently and safely in their own homes for longer. As in previous years, we intend to make these payments to local authorities in England in May, and details of each local authority’s allocation can be found in Annex B below. This also includes indicative allocations for each district council in the two-tier areas.

As you know, the DFG is capital funding for the provision of home adaptations to help older and disabled people to live as independently and safely as possible in their homes. Where agreed locally (and in two-tier areas with the express agreement of district councils), a portion of the grant may also be used for wider social care capital projects. A grant determination letter outlining the conditions of grant usage will be issued to local authorities to coincide with the payments being made.

In two-tier areas the main DFG funding will be paid to the Upper-Tier authorities (county councils), while the statutory duty to provide adaptations to the homes of those eligible people who qualify, continues to sit with local housing authorities (district councils). I can confirm that, building on the approach taken in previous years, each area should allocate DFG funding primarily for the provision of home adaptations, and in two-tier areas, unless specific agreement is given by any district council, Upper Tiers must pass down the DFG funding to their district councils in full, and in a timely manner, to enable the districts to continue to meet their statutory duty. Further details will be set out in the BCF Policy Framework for 2020-21, which will be published shortly.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government would also like to draw your attention to Foundations, who are funded by this Department. Foundations is the National Body for Home Improvement Agencies and can offer advice and support to both local authorities and home improvement agencies on the efficient delivery of DFGs, and to local authority commissioners on commissioning local home improvement services. More information can be found at: https://www.foundations.uk.com/

Finally, I would like to signpost the Regulatory Reform Order (2002) to local authorities to encourage uptake of locally published RROs. At present we are aware that around 85% of authorities have a locally published RRO policy, but we would like to see this rise to closer to 100% uptake. The RRO gives authorities a general power to introduce local policies for assisting individuals with renewals, repairs and adaptations in their homes through grants or loans. For example, it can provide authorities a vehicle for funding essential repairs to reduce injury and accidents in the home, to ensure homes are adequately heated, and to expand the scope of adaptations available under the DFG legislation. Local authorities can also use the RRO to create assistance schemes which help people meet their needs without going through the full DFG process.

Schemes such as these can, for example, provide ‘fast track’ mechanisms for low level adaptations, which do not require a full social care assessment or means test. If your authority is interested in publishing a local RRO policy, please contact Foundations for help and assistance.

If you have any general questions about your authority’s DFG funding in 2020-21 please send them to Disabled.facilitiesgrants@communities.gov.uk.

Regards,

Cathy Page

Deputy Director

Housing Support Division

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