Don’t look a gift horse….

Most local authorities know that they are, on average, set to receive an increase of around 80% in their grant allocation click here for disabled facilities grants (DFG) in 2016-17.

Where is the celebration? Positive news announcements? Silence seems to prevail.

Home adaptations have always been the Cinderella subject of the housing world, or, layering on even more metaphors, ‘nobody’s baby’, as they straddled the interests of health, social care and housing. So here we are, at a time of massive funding reductions in local authorities, with a good news story to tell about integration in action, but little is appearing in print.

I have had a couple of emails saying this is great news, but worryingly more rumblings about ‘how are we going to manage this extra work’.

No-one is underestimating the pressure that local authorities and front line staff are facing as revenue funding is squeezed. But ironically, finding ways to say ‘no’ and rationing shrinking budgets can be more expensive to manage than saying yes to greater numbers.

DFG money is now paid through the Better Care Fund. It is not tightly ring-fenced. It can be used in imaginative ways – fast tracked smaller works, block contracts, increased self assessment/ use of Trusted Assessors & HIAs – why not use for Housing Options advisers in hospitals linked to a rapid housing adaptation fund to help people to leave hospital faster etc etc. All could contribute to the BCFs new targets – particularly reducing delayed transfer of care and improving patient/ service user experience.

If someone out there would combine all of the excellent elements of the local pioneers (see our list of ‘Good Practice’ locality notebooks here) we would really see disabled people’s lives transformed – anyone want to step up to the plate?

February 2016