(a) That the Committee supports the content of the report and the action taken to date; and
(b) That the Committee supports the ongoing work in the service to improve service delivery to our customers.
The Benefits Manager presented a report to provide an update on progress in relation to the service control action plan. She provided background information and advised that a Disabled Facility Grant (DFG) was available to owner occupiers and private tenants to help individuals living with a disability with the cost of adapting their homes to enable them to continue living at their residence. The maximum amount of grant available in Wales was £36k. Where the application was for a child, or the applicant was in receipt of appropriate qualifying benefits, there was no means test and the cost of the adaptation up to the maximum grant was awarded. For other applications the amount of the grant varied from zero to maximum depending on the cost of the approved works and the financial circumstances of the applicant.
The Benefits Manager reported that following an internal audit an oversight board had been established in July 2018 to ensure there was adequate and urgent improvement to the delivery of the DFG. Work was ongoing to address and implement the recommendations contained within the audit report and to review service delivery to make improvements. An updated action plan was appended to the report which detailed the progress made to date. The Benefits Manager reported on the improvements and changes to DFG service delivery, as detailed in the report, and advised that work would continue into 2019/20 to further improve delivery times and quality and bring the service into line with the recommendations following the Wales Audit Office Housing Adaptations Report and the Welsh Government Housing Adaptation service standards.
In response to a comment from the Chair, the Benefits Manager explained that where the adaptations required were unsuitable at the applicant’s current residence a Disabled Facilities Relocation Grant was available to cover the expenses of a disabled persons’ move to a more appropriate property.
Members congratulated the Benefits Manager and her team on their work and achievements to improve DFG service delivery.
Councillor Paul Shotton asked if further assistance was available if the cost of adaptations was above the £36k maximum grant payable in Wales. The Benefits Manager explained that a Disabled Facilities Discretionary Top Up Grant would be considered in exceptional circumstances, up to an amount of £39k, where the cost of the required works exceeded the statutory limit of £36k. She also advised that a DFG top up loan, which was a discretionary loan secured against the value of the property could be issued to meet the costs of the adaptation in excess of the DFG Grant and the DFG top up grant.
The Benefits Manager reiterated that the amount of DFG grant would depend on the cost of the approved works and where applicable an applicant’s financial circumstances. A means test would be carried out on applications with the exception of child applicants and where the adult applicant was in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and/or Housing Benefit.
Councillor Rosetta Dolphin asked if the long term needs of children were taken into ... view the full minutes text for item 63