A new training scheme has been introduced offering local authorities, housing associations and charities ways to improve how they use disabled facilities grants (DFGs).
The government recently announced DFG allocations for 2019-20. It saw the budget rise by around 8% to £505m a year with the funding split among local authorities across England.
DFGs are used to pay for a range of work – from simple home modifications to major adaptations – in order to help people with disabilities and long-term conditions to live in their own home.
Work includes level-access bathrooms, stairlifts, ramps and other equipment installations.
But a review of DFG, published last year, highlighted how both the delivery of grant-funded work and awareness of the support available varies enormously from area to area.
Those findings were reinforced this week by a report from charity Versus Arthritis, which found 47% of people with arthritis who regularly use aids and adaptations were unaware of the help available through DFG via their local authority.
In order to help maximise the impact of the increased resources, Foundations, the government-funded national body for home improvement agencies (HIAs), is offering free training, quality assessments and workshop facilitation.
By using the DFG Quality Standards, councils, housing associations and independent living charities can assess how good their service is and what they need to do to improve.
Organisations can either carry out a short and easy self-assessment process or have a helping hand from Foundations’ staff.
Paul Smith, director of Foundations, said: “It might be that you’re not sure whether your DFG system is working effectively. Perhaps you have a waiting list, an underspend, or both.
We can facilitate a workshop for you that will streamline your procedures – for free.
“Ultimately, this is about ensuring this funding gets to vulnerable people who need it most to pay for work – whether it’s a stairlift or assistive technology – that will enable them to live safely in their own homes and in the process help reduce avoidable hospital admissions and better manage care needs.”
Foundations is also offering free training on DFG basics that covers legislation, regulations and guidance.