Delays to Disabled Facilities Grant process have major impact on people’s lives says Ombudsman

People with disabilities are being left for too long in unsuitable homes because of problems with councils’ Disabled Facilities Grants processes, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) says.

In a report issued this week, the LGO highlights some of the complaints it receives when the grants process goes wrong, and the significant impact this can have on people’s daily lives.

In one case a married couple was separated for a number of weeks over Christmas because the work on their home was poorly managed and carried out.  In another, a man waited 18 months longer than he should have for an accessible shower and had to wash in his kitchen sink, because the work was delayed and the council failed to chase it up.

Housing adaptations provide a lifeline to thousands every year. They allow people to continue living in their homes independently and with dignity. However in the cases the LGO investigates, the process of applying for and receiving a grant is often beset by delay.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman said:

"Housing adaptations are not just about providing the simple ‘bricks and mortar’ changes, but about giving independence and dignity to people with disabilities. Relatively simple changes, like accessible showers or doorways, can make a huge difference to peoples’ quality of life.

"These adaptations must be provided by housing services departments, but my experience shows many people are being let down. The stories in my report are typical of problems we see with housing adaptation complaints, and we want authorities to learn from our findings.”

The report gives good practice guidance to local authorities to improve their grant allocation schemes and also offers elected members questions they can ask to scrutinise their own grants processes to ensure the problems investigated do not surface in their authorities.

Research undertaken last year by Foundations, the organisation that oversees local Home Improvement Agencies, suggests adaptations are also good for councils and can save authorities money in the long-run by allowing people to live in their homes for much longer, without having to rely on outside help or move to care homes.

Article date: 18 March 2016