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Residents who are eligible for assistance with adaptations to their homes to help address vulnerability or disability will benefit from an increase in available grants.
Changes in the way that Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) are funded mean that Cherwell District Council is to get more from the Oxfordshire Better Care Fund. When added to the funding already provided by the council this means that the total available budget for 2016-2017 has risen by 47 per cent to £1.22million.
At a meeting of the Executive on 6 June, councillors accepted a report which recommended ways in which the extra money might best be used.
“Cherwell has always prioritised the funding of grants to help disabled residents and, once again last year, we were able to fully fund all of the Disabled Facilities Grants that were needed.
“Because of our strong financial position, we can use this extra DFG money to further enhance the help we can provide for disabled and vulnerable residents and make sure they benefit from improved health and well-being, which is an objective we share with Oxfordshire health and social-care colleagues. A key goal is to cut the red tape surrounding grants so that we can deliver home-improvements more quickly.
“One of the ways we might do this is by extending the range of work we can do outside the formal DFG process, because that can be quicker and easier, but we plan to look at a range of options with our Oxfordshire partners.”
Disabled Facilities Grants are mandatory-grants, so the council must provide them to eligible residents. They are most frequently used to ensure people can access bathroom and kitchen facilities but also to get around, and to-and-from, their homes.
“Other options we will be exploring include loans to supplement DFGs for adaptations where the work is going to cost more than the £30,000 grant maximum and also funding the provision of ready-adapted accommodation.”
The funding boost follows the Government’s changes to improve coordination between health and social-care and the transfer of DFG capital funding from central government to Heath-and-Well-Being Boards (HWBs) as part of their Better Care Fund. HWBs are required to pass on specified minimum allocations to local authorities in their area and the allocations set for this year have been significantly increased.
Most councils have seen an increase in their funding and while some may need the extra money to cover underfunded grants from previous years, Cherwell’s long-standing commitment to funding DFGs, and strong financial position, mean it is now in a position to improve services beyond what has previously been possible.
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