On Wednesday 25th November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak delivered the 2020 Spending Review, setting out plans for Government spending for 2021/22.
The Spending Review outlines Government spending by setting budgets for each central government department. There were winners and losers, but one positive aspect is the news that the Government’s investment in the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) will be set at £573 million for the next year. This is an increase of 13.5% on last year’s budget (£505 million) and is great news for Local Authorities who want to help those who need it the most.
The increased budget for DFG spending is particularly welcome as there are concerns that the obvious effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our economy will see public spending cut in the coming years. Public spending cuts often disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in society, so RISE Adaptions are pleased to see DFG boosted for another year.
In addition to pledging £573 million to LA’s to spend on home adaption, the Spending Review also pledges £71 million for the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund. All good news for citizens requiring specialist and adapted housing to live independent lives.
The Local Government Association (LGA), the national membership body for local authorities reacted positively to the news:
“We are pleased that the Government has listened to our call to increase Disabled Facilities Grants which will go some way towards meeting demand for adaptations. The funding will enable councils to adapt more of the existing housing stock to help older people and disabled adults and children to live independently in their own homes for longer, improving wellbeing and preventing further pressure on social care and health systems. We continue to encourage Government also to consider improvements other aspects of people’s homes that help people to live healthier lives, such as tackling damp and cold homes.”
LGA is just one association that has called for an increase to the Disabled Facilities Grant – the Home Adaptions Consortium, compromised of 23 organisations across housing, health and social care wrote a letter to earlier this year to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock asking for an increase in DFG funding.
The Disability Funding Grant is used to help people with disabilities or age-related limitations stay in their own homes for longer, by adapting them and making them fit for purpose. The effect this can have on a person’s wellbeing is immense and we fully support the call for increased spending on home adaptions to keep people at home.
Foundations, the Government-funded national body for home improvement agencies published a report this year that laid out how LA’s delivered DFG money across 2018-19.
The report showed that DFG funding was used to support around 53,500 people in England, primarily through home adaptations. The report also revealed the average Local Authority spent £1.2 million on adaptions, adapted 110 homes, and successfully kept 11 people out of care homes.
However, some Local Authorities are calling for more flexibility on how the grants can be spent. DFG is currently means-tested and quite rigid on what the money can and cannot be used for.
Northumberland County Council is one such council seeking to change the way they use the budget with Neil Bradley from NCC saying last month:
“The threshold for the means-tested grant is £30,000 and there are more cases with people we are struggling to assist because they are near their cap. They are not very frequent, but they do happen, and they can affect people’s lives.”
It is hoped going forwards, the council will be able to adopt a more flexible and discretionary approach to how the grant is spent.
Read more about the Disabled Facilities Grant and how it can be used here.
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