MHCLG lacks basic info on measuring Disability Facilities Grant success

Commons question exposes the Ministry as missing basic measures of success because of “disproportionate cost”.

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Despite a boost to the Disability Facilities Grant (DFG) budget, MHCLG does not hold basic information on the success of grant applications from council or housing association tenants.

The response to a written Commons question has confirmed no such information is held for private tenants and homeowners either.

And answers could only be obtained at “disproportionate cost”.

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

Just last week, the Centre for Ageing Better outlined the need for national government to prioritise accessible housebuilding.

In April, the government confirmed the DFG budget will increase by 8% to £505m, announced as part of the 2019/20 Policy framework for the Better Care Fund.

But a Commons question posed by Lib Dem Layla Moran exposed MHCLG has having no easily accessible measure of the grant’s success.

Moran asked MHCLG for a breakdown on what proportion of applications from council tenants, housing association tenants, private tenants, and homeowners for disabled facilities grants were successful in each constituent part and region of the UK in each year since 2010.

MHCLG minister Luke Hall said the Ministry does not hold such information – which could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

As reported by 24housing, the Centre for Ageing Better has urged government to build on that 8% increase in the DFG.

The Centre says that, while 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.

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 says it 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.

The 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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