The £55m boost for councils to spend on access and mobility equipment is good news but now the challenge is for local authorities and providers to work together to start improving delivery of disabled facilities grants (DFG).
That’s according to Paul Smith, director at Foundations – the national body for home improvement agencies – who was this morning reacting to the Chancellor’s Budget announcement.
He told AMP that it is a “big vote of confidence from the government” to invest extra funding into DFG for the second year running.
Smith said the funding boost takes the total to over £500m this year.
DFG allows people to get a grant from their council to make changes to their homes which includes installing ramps, stairlifts and adaptable bathrooms.
Smith said: “The challenge is for local authorities to work more collaboratively with their supply chain to improve the delivery of home adaptations for those who qualify for DFG and the growing number of older people who are preparing their home for older age.”
Members of the home adaptation sector have long been concerned over the DFG delivery process and how long it can take for disabled and elderly people to receive important equipment installations and adaptations in their homes.
A number of councils around the country have been launching initiatives to streamline the process and help people access improvements quicker, which in some places has included striking exclusive deals with equipment providers.
The number of DFG applicants is on the rise, with nearly half of people planning to apply for a grant to help keep their elderly mothers and fathers living independently at home, according to research.
The report claimed that people increasingly want the government to pay for modifications of potentially up to £30,000 or more to make their parents’ home more accessible.
A recent report revealed some of the most proactive and innovative local authority’s when it comes to housing adaptation provision.
Knowsley Council, Brent Council and Bristol Council were just three of the authorities picked out for demonstrating strong initiative and good practice in making the process as quick and painless as possible.
The councils offer display centres where older and disabled people can view possible home adaptations and equipment, as well as accessing a range of related services.