With Spring just around the corner the transfer of Government funding for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) into the Better Care Fund is only weeks away.
This is starting to focus minds in some areas. In others little or no thought has been given to the logistics of transferring DFG funds, let alone the opportunity that this change provides to improve current practice. As hospital A&E creaks at the seams, integration of fast track adaptations into health and care systems would be a useful step.
Just before Christmas the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG)and Department of Health (DH) published their ‘Better Care Fund Policy Framework‘ setting out how the Better Care Fund will be implemented in 2015 to 2016.
The Framework includes a specific clause (*3.5) concerning the use of DFG money. As in previous years, local housing authorities still have considerable scope to use their DFG allocation to deliver adaptations help in innovative ways eg. not tied to DFG process. Some have taken the opportunity to streamline eg. block contract certain works, remove the means test for small to medium adaptations etc, all of which can considerably speed up delivery – a high priority for health.
No-one is under any illusions with regard to the extremely difficult financial situation facing many local authorities. However, we have to keep on making the case that timely home adaptations offer major fiscal and social benefits ** and should be given high priority.
We are always looking for examples of good practice so please do let us know if you are ahead on integration and provision of home adaptations.
*3.5 For 2015/16, there is an additional requirement set out in the Better Care Fund planning guidance that, due to the statutory duty on local housing authorities to provide DFG to those who qualify each area will have to allocate DFG funding to their respective housing authorities (district councils in two-tier areas) from the pooled budget. This will enable them to continue to meet their statutory duties in relation to the DFG.
** See Better Outcomes, Lower Costs, (2007) Heywood F. & Turner ODI/ DWP
Reflections by the CEO of Care & Repair England, Sue Adams, [January 2015]