Waiting times for Disabled Facility Grants in Ashford have been completely eradicated following an initiative from the local Council.
Ashford Borough Council took action to reduce the length of time that applicants faced after the number of individuals waiting for an answer reached almost 80.
In October 2017, the council signalled its determination to slash waiting times for mandatory grants by approving a one-off additional capital funding contribution of £200,000 for the financial year 2018-19.
Following the success of the move, the Cabinet has also voted to change the means test formula by introducing a system of discretionary grants aimed at reaching even more people in need of help.
Disabled Facility Grants (DFG) are used to pay for essential adaptations to allow disabled people to continue to live within their own homes and to achieve as independent a life as possible.
Local authorities have a statutory duty in relation to mandatory DFGs. The maximum mandatory grant set is at £30,000, which is decided by a means test based on income and capital.
Then, using money allocated by Government, and also using their own funds, councils administer the grant ensuring that the applicant qualifies for assistance.
As a result of the twin-pronged initiative, the waiting time for Disabled Facility Grants assessments in Ashford has been abolished, down from around 80 cases nine months ago to a position where no-one was waiting to be assessed by the occupational therapist.
Councillors then agreed to make changes to the means testing element of the mandatory DFGs after they heard that every year people are turned away from applying because of their income and savings.
This decision means that £10,000 will be disregarded before a person’s income and savings are calculated through the means testing system.
Cllr Gerald White, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “I’m very pleased to see the significant improvements in waiting times over the past year brought about by the council’s private sector housing team’s joint work with the occupational health team. Offering discretionary grants and funding an OT will seek to use existing funding more effectively by ensuring a fairer system and help reduce hospital admissions, such as bed blocking.”