Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
DFG Policy update following review
The Housing Portfolio Holder presented a report on Disabled Facilities Grants Policy. She thanked officers for their work in producing the report and referred to the need for the policy to be updated following recommendation by internal audit.
In particular the Housing Portfolio Holder drew attention to the proposal to increase the level at which the Council applied a means test for the scheme, from £5,000 to £10,000. This would align the Council’s approach with that of Eden District Council and Barrow Borough Council. It was also proposed that authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services to agree a change in the means testing level where required in the future.
During discussion members noted the importance of the scheme and the need to avoid unnecessary delays. It was hoped that increasing the means testing threshold would improve the process and benefit residents. Members also paid tribute to the memory of the Council’s Housing Specialist, David Bradley, for his work on the scheme.
RESOLVED – that
1) The amendments to the Disabled Facilities Grant Policy 2018 at Appendix 1 be agreed;
2) Authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Operational Lead – People Welfare and Income Maximisation and the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) to change the means test level where deemed appropriate; and
3) Authority be delegated to the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) to make the necessary amendments to the Constitution outlined in paragraph 3.2(2) of the report.
Reasons for Decision
Delivering a balanced community – The Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) Policy 2018 invokes the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002, which enhances South Lakeland District Council’s (‘SLDC’) powers and duties under the primary legislation (Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996). By administrating grants in this way it helps to facilitate adaptations aiding safety and independence in the home as well as assisting Carers to care. This enables a better quality of life for our residents and helps support the delivery of balanced communities.
A fairer South Lakeland – this policy empowers SLDC to maximize access and use of the Disabled Facilities Grant funding particularly by way of discretionary grants in the district. This enables SLDC to assist more residents across the district where it might not without such a policy.
A number of proposals have been recommended by Audit. As highlighted in 3.2 of the report. The impact of the changes means the council can help more people more quickly. The Council could decide to keep the existing Policy, however, this is not recommended as it will potentially reduce the number of people we can assist and reduces the ability to be flexible or move quickly to react to the needs of our community, for example, in reviewing the means test as necessary.
The recommendation to clarify the contractual arrangements between the Council, the customer and the contractors is recommended to provide greater certainty for all parties; an alternative is to maintain the status quo which is contrary to legal advice and not recommended as greater clarity around legal roles in the arrangements would assist all parties. This is an Audit recommendation.
Report author: Amanda Pharaoh
Publication date: 12/08/2022
Date of decision: 20/07/2022
Decided at meeting: 20/07/2022 - Cabinet