Government urged to help councils deliver home adaptations

Centre for Aging Better urges government to build on an 8% increase in the Disabled Facilities Grant.

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Government is being urged to build on an 8% increase in the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to help councils deliver home adaptations.

The centre for Aging Better says that though the increase is welcome, there’s more to do to support older people and people with a disability to live at home safely and independently.

Government has confirmed the national Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) budget will increase by 8% to £505m, announced as part of the 2019/20 Policy framework for the Better Care Fund.

The DFG is used to deliver home adaptations and other alterations, so people can stay living in their chosen homes.

“It’s very welcome that the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) will be increased by 8%, but it’s about more than capital funding,” said Dr Rachael Docking, senior programme manager (homes), Centre for Ageing Better.

“The DFG provides vital support, but many local areas simply don’t have the capacity and resources to deliver home adaptations quickly, leaving vulnerable people at risk,” she said.

Now, the Centre for Aging Better is urging government to go further by raising revenue funding available to help councils deliver home adaptation – including administrators and contractor – allowing DFG money to be used on both major alterations and minor adaptations.

“Support also needs to be more readily available for those living in the private rented sector, where they are less likely to receive a DFG than any other tenure, despite the high proportion of poor quality homes in the private rented sector,” said Dr Docking.

Funding for the DFG in 2019-20 will be £505m paid to councils via a section 31 grant.

The DFG capital grant must be spent in accordance with an approved joint Better Care Fund (BCF) plan.

In two-tier areas, decisions around the use of the DFG funding need to be made with the direct involvement of both tiers working jointly to support integration ambitions.

The government is committed to the concept of person-centred integrated care, with health, social care, housing and other public services working together over provision.

Since 2015, the government’s aims around integration have been targeted by the BCF.

These aims are intended to provide a context in which the NHS and councils can work together as equal partners.

The plans produced are owned by Health and Wellbeing Boards, representing a single, local plan for the integration of health and social care in all parts of the country.

In every year of its operation, most local areas have agreed that the BCF has improved joint working and had a positive impact on integration.

Government papers show that in 2017-18, 93% of local areas agreed that delivery of the BCF had improved joint working between health and social care in their locality, while 91% agreed that delivery of BCF plans had a positive impact on the integration of health and social care.

Additionally, since its inception, local areas are said to have voluntarily pooled at least £1.5bn above the minimum required, in each year, with approximately £2.1bn planned in voluntary pooled funding in 2018-19.

Over 2019-20, the BCF in 2019-20 will retain the same National Conditions as in 2017-19, with areas required to set out how the National Conditions will be met in jointly agreed BCF Plans signed off by Health and Wellbeing Boards.

Government will continue to require NHS England to put in place arrangements for CCGs to pool a mandated minimum amount of funding and that councils continue to pool grant sums from the improved BCF, DFG and Winter Pressures funding.

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