NEWS AND POLICY UPDATE:
Information for the providers and commissioners of housing related services for older and disabled people
- CHANCELLOR’S PRE-BUDGET REPORT AND OLDER PEOPLE
The housing related measures announced by the Chancellor focus on help for people facing mortgage payment problems and on social rented housing, with no mention of low income older home owners facing repair, adaptation or related financial problems.
Planned expenditure on social rented stock improvement and infrastructure projects will be brought forward, which it is hoped will help to stimulate the building industry:
WarmFront gets another £100m (see item below). VAT goes down to 15% until January 2010. Debt advice provision is to be expanded (£10m for Citizens Advice Bureaux/ £5.8m helpline). Pensioners will receive a one off payment of £60 in Jan 09. In April 09 Pension Credit will increase in line with inflation instead of earnings (5% instead of 3.5%). www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/prebud_pbr08_repindex.htm
- £250m to fund improvements in 25,000 social rented homes
- £175m for council home repair and maintenance work
- £150m for 2,000 new homes for social rent (in addition to the £400m announced in September)
- £100m to complete key transport projects in Growth Areas and support regeneration projects
- FUNDING ALLOCATIONS FOR RAPID REPAIRS AND MINOR ADAPTATIONS SERVICES
Communities and Local Government (CLG) has announced the level of allocation for all top tier local authorities to support the growth and expansion of local handyperson services. Money is available for 2009-2011. LAs are also invited to bid for a small funding pot for 10-20 innovative projects. The deadline for claims and bids is 30th Dec 08. Details via www.spkweb.org.uk
- SUPPORTING PEOPLE FUNDING TO BE INCORPORATED INTO AREA BASED GRANT
From April 09 Supporting People grant will be paid to local authorities as non-ring fenced funding. In the first year a specific sum will be named as Supporting People grant but it can be used in the same ways as Area Based Grant into which it will be fully integrated from 2010. www.communities.gov.uk/news/housing/1075794
- HOUSING, CARE AND SUPPORT REPORT
Communities and Local Government (CLG) has published ‘Housing, care, support: a guide to integrating housing-related support at a regional level’. The research looked at investment in housing-related support for vulnerable groups within the context of the new regional framework and the report includes a series of recommendations for improving investment and delivery. www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/housingcaresupportguide
- REGIONAL STRATEGY REVIEWS
A number of regions are in the process of reviewing their Regional Housing and/or Spatial Strategies. As most make little mention of older people this is an important opportunity to gain greater recognition of the need to plan housing and an infrastructure for an ageing population.
- SOUTHWEST REGION LAUNCHES HOUSING MARKET ASSESSMENT INFORMATION
The South West Housing LIN and the Housing Corporation have produced a set of five documents, including information about housing market assessment, concerned with the future accommodation needs of older people in the South West of England. It concludes that housing and support options for older people will have to be transformed over the coming decade as the population ages. It provides a useful model for other regions. www.networks.csip.org.uk/IndependentLivingChoices/Housing/
- DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS
Information continues to emerge indicating that the increase in national funding for DFGs is not always resulting in higher local budgets, with some LAs either freezing or even cutting back allocations. Concerns are growing that further funding problems may arise when the DFG monies are given to Regional Authorities next April. Guidance is anticipated shortly from the Tenant Services Authority regarding adaptations in social rented housing, followed by more general guidance from CLG.
The Statutory Instrument to further amend the DFG Test of Resources has now been published and will apply to applications for grants which fall to be approved on or after 31st December 2008 by local housing authorities in England. Details avaialable on the What's New page.
- HOUSING AND THE CREDIT CRUNCH SELECT COMMITTEE INQUIRY
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into the government’s measures to help homeowners affected by the credit crunch. A submission with regard to older people was submitted by Care & Repair England highlighting the need for more help with repairs and adaptation, particularly for older people unable to move to a more suitable property because they can’t sell their home. www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/clg/clg_200708_pn58.cfm
- GOOD HOUSING LINKS TO GOOD HEALTH – NEW TOOLKIT FOR PRACTITIONERS
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has published a Toolkit to assist its members and local housing managers to achieve a better understanding of the links between housing and health. It includes a method of measuring and demonstrating the value of private sector housing intervention to health and quality of life. www.cieh.org/policy/good_housing_good_health.html
- SECURITY OF TENURE IN SOCIAL HOUSING TO STAY
Housing Minister Margaret Beckett has said that the Government is not going to end secure and permanent tenancies for residents of social housing. This followed widespread speculation that the Government was seriously considering introducing regular reviews to see whether a tenant was poor enough to need a social home.
- FIRE DEATHS HALVED – BUT 20% OF HOMES STILL LACK A SMOKE ALARM
The number of domestic fires and deaths due to fire are reducing year on year. Factors that have contributed to this fall include furniture regulation, prevention campaigns and increased use of alarms. 20% of homes still do not have a smoke alarm. www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1069113
- HELP FOR HOUSEHOLDS STILL AFFECTED BY FLOOD DAMAGE
25 councils have been given extra government funding to enable them to waive council tax charges on homes that are still unoccupied due to the flood damage and repair delays. This potentially affects over 1,500 households. For full list see: www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1053825
- PLANNING PERMISSION NO LONGER NEEDED FOR A RANGE OF HOME IMPROVEMENTS
New planning rules mean that from 1st Oct 08 planning permission is not required for a range of home alterations, including certain extensions, loft conversions and driveway changes. For a detailed guide: www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/hhg/houseguide.html
- HOMES AND COMMUNITIES AGENCY (HCA) UP AND RUNNING
Controlling a budget of over £5 billion pa for housing and regeneration, the HCA came into being on the 1st Dec 08, taking over the functions of the Housing Corporation (investment), English Partnerships and some CLG delivery programmes. www.homesandcommunities.co.uk
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE NEWS
- SOCIAL CARE REVIEW
The Dept of Health’s (DH) open consultation on the future of adult social care ended on 28th November with a series of high profile announcements by charities and consumer groups. Age Concern called for a new national entitlement to care and support, based on need not means. The Right care, Right deal coalition (Carers UK, Counsel and Care and Help the Aged) said locally-based eligibility for care should be replaced by a national system. This call for an end to the postcode lottery was also reflected in a survey of public attitudes undertaken by DH. One of the more contentious responses was by Leonard Cheshire Disability which called for separate systems for older people and younger disabled adults, raising fears of exacerbating ageism in provision. A Social Care Green Paper is expected in Spring 09.
- REFORM OF ADULT SOCIAL CARE LAW NEEDED URGENTLY
The Law Commission has called for an urgent reform of adult social care legislation, describing the current law as ‘a confusing jumble of conflicting statutes enacted over a period of 60 years’. In a report commissioned by DH, it highlights the need for clarity with regard to individual entitlement and local authority obligations. Creation of a new legislative framework in connection with the DH review of social care is expected to follow. www.lawcom.gov.uk/adult_social_care.htm
- SURVEY REVEALS ONLY 17% OF SOCIAL WORKERS UNDERSTAND PERSONAL BUDGETS
In a survey by Community Care only 17% of social workers reported that they fully understood the concept of personal budgets. 19% said they felt well informed about self directed support. www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2008/11/18/109083/personalisation.html
- PERSONALISATION “ROUGH GUIDE” PUBLISHED
This Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) guide looks at what personalisation means, where the idea came from and how it fits into policy reform. www.scie.org.uk/publications/reports/report20.asp
- OLDER PEOPLE REPORT FINDING INDIVIDUAL BUDGETS A BURDEN
The evaluation of the Individual Budgets (IB) Pilots has reported that ‘a substantial proportion’ of the older people involved felt anxious about managing their individual budget. There were also problems with the integration of Disabled Facilities Grants into the IB system. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications
/PublicationsPolicyandGuidance/DH_089505 However, as IBs are being rolled out it is important to find ways of improving this situation. ‘Making personal budgets work for older people’ cites positive examples. www.networks.csip.org.uk/_library/PersonalBudgetsOlderPeople.pdf
- PARTNERSHIPS FOR OLDER PEOPLE (POPPS) EVALUATION REVEALS HEALTH IMPACT
The latest evaluation report on PoPPs notes that pilot sites continue to have an effect on reducing hospital emergency bed-day use. www.dh.gov.uk/en/SocialCare/Deliveringadultsocialcare/Olderpeople
- HOSPITAL READMISSION RATES INCREASE
A new DH study looking at hospital readmission rates over the past decade shows that these have risen steadily. They are highest for people aged 75yrs+, increasing from 10% in 1998 to 13.9% in 2008. The main conditions in this group leading to readmission were heart disease and respiratory conditions, both of which are affected by poor housing. In considering possible factors influencing this trend there is minimal reference to the role of social care and no mention of the potential impact of the state of the home into which an older person may be discharged. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/
- LIFE EXPECTANCY CONTINUES TO RISE BUT INEQUALITY REMAINS
During 2005-07, life expectancy at birth in England continued to increase for both males and females, reaching its highest level on record at 77.5 years for males and 81.7 years for females. The government’s target of of 78.6 years for men and 82.5 years for women by 2010 is therefore likely to be reached. However, the life expectancy gap between people living in the most deprived areas and the national average has widened for men and not reduced for women. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/
- SOCIAL CARE FUNDING LEVELS ANNOUNCED
Local authorities have been informed of their levels of adult social care funding for 2009-10 & 2010-11. As for Supporting People, the funding will be paid via Area Based Grant and is not ring-fenced. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/
- FEWER OLDER PEOPLE IN COUNCIL FUNDED RESIDENTIAL CARE
There has been a 4% fall in the past year in the number of people of 65+ living in residential or nursing care homes and being paid for by the local authority. There are concerns that with the economic downturn more older people will struggle to meet the costs of privately funded places, increasing pressure on social care budgets. www.ic.nhs.uk/
- SURVEY REVEALS WIDE VARIETY OF CHARGES FOR TELECARE SYSTEMS
A survey of the cost of Telecare provision undertaken by the CSIP Telecare network reveals a wide spectrum of costs and a complex range of charging systems across the country. With the ending of the specific national grant for telecare many local authorities are reviewing their charging policies.
- DYING AT HOME – END OF LIFE CARE STRATEGY DELIVERY
The Government’s strategy to promote high quality care for all adults at the end of life highlighted the fact that whilst most people wish to die at home, in reality 58% die in hospital. A consultation is now out about the ‘quality markers’ that should be put into place to progress the strategy. Housing related measures to enable discharge eg. adaptations, was not mentioned in the strategy but this consultation does note provision of aids and the importance of ‘home2hospital’ type of services. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/DH_090077. Housing 21 have published a report about end of life care in extra care housing. www.housing21.org.uk
- MAJOR CHANGE TO RULES ON BACKDATING BENEFIT CLAIMS
Changes to the time limits for claiming certain welfare benefits came into force from October 2008. If a person is aged 60 or over and makes a new claim for Pension Credit, Housing or Council Tax Benefits their entitlement can now only be backdated for three months. It was previously backdated for up to 12 months (provided the person’s circumstances remained unchanged during that time). This is a blow for older people who need that lump sum to pay for items such as accumulated debts, utility bills or meet expenses such as home repairs, for which the backdated payment was extremely helpful. The change also discriminates against older people; those under 60 can claim up to 6 months backdating. www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/life/benefits/
- SOCIAL FUND HIT BY GROWTH IN REQUESTS FOR HELP WITH AIDS & ADAPTATIONS
The Social Fund Commissioner’s Annual Report 07-08 notes that a growing number of requests for aids and adaptations help are being considered by Inspectors “where help from another public body may have been more appropriate”. www.irs-review.org.uk/infocent/reports/areports.htm
- INCAPACITY BENEFIT REPLACED BY EMPLOYMENT AND SUPPORT ALLOWANCE (ESA): NEW GUIDE
The Disability Alliance has published a guide to ESA as a supplement to their Disability Rights Handbook. ESA came into force on the 27th October 08 and affects people with a disability or long term health condition who are under retirement age. ESA guide is £7 incl. p&p www.disabilityalliance.org
- NEW PENSIONS LEGISLATION COMES INTO FORCE
The Pensions Bill has received its Royal Assent and is now an Act. From 2012 workers must either be automatically enrolled into their employer's workplace pension scheme or entered into the new Personal Accounts scheme. www.dwp.gov.uk/pensionsreform/pensions_act_2008.asp
- PRE-PAYMENT METER PRICES BROUGHT IN LINE WITH QUARTERLY BILLING
British Gas has announced that from 18th December 08 they are to come into line with E.on and Npower in equalizing the tariff for electricity pre-payment meters. Customers should now pay the same unit price as they would on quarterly billing. However, British Gas have suspended their social tariff (cheaper energy provision for people living in fuel poverty) until April 09 whereas other suppliers are still advertising availability. www.housing.org.uk/default.aspx?TabID=1015
- £1M TENDERING LOAN FUND LAUNCHED
Futurebuilders England have announced a £1m loan fund for third sector organisations to help to meet the cost of tendering for public sector contracts. The Tender Fund will provide interest-free three year loans of between £3,000 and £50,000. To apply tel: 0191 261 5200 or email email@example.com
- THE NATIONAL BENEVOLENT FUND FOR THE AGED
The National Benevolent Fund for the Aged aims to improve the quality of life for older people in the UK who live on a low income. It offers emergency telephone alarms, loan of TENS pain relief machines and free holidays. www.nbfa.org.uk
- INVESTIGATION REVEALS ‘MASSIVE’ LEVEL OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT WARMFRONT
An investigation into the £800m WarmFront scheme by the Mirror Newspaper has revealed a high level of complaints. It reported that independent assessors of the WarmFront scheme told them that complaint levels reached 25% earlier this year – around 60,000 customers – and higher than the 6% quoted by WarmFront. Issues highlighted include claims that WarmFront quotes are significantly higher than those from other local tradesmen, and contractors are charging for materials that are never used. “Discrepancies” were identified between what contractors charged for and the cost of what they actually installed in up to half of the jobs inspected. http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2008/11/complaints-hidden-in-800-milli.html
- KEEP WARM KEEP WELL CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED
The annual DH campaign to reduce cold related deaths has been launched. For leaflets and other materials see: www.dh.gov.uk/en/SocialCare/Deliveringadultsocialcare/Olderpeople/DH_4076849
- NEW DIRECTOR OF AGE CONCERN/ HELP THE AGED MERGED CHARITY ANNOUNCED
Tom Wright will take up the post of chief executive of the new merged charity in Jan 09. He is currently the Chief Executive of VisitBritain and previously served as Chief Executive of the British Tourist Authority and as a Board Director of the Saga Group.
- THE FUTURE OF ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND OLDER PEOPLE
The independent review of engagement between older people and government has recommended a range of changes. These include establishing a UK Advisory Forum for older people chaired by the lead government Minister for Older People, redeployment of the engagement budget regionally through the Government Offices, and regional older people’s forums built on existing groups and OPAGs. The future of BGOP is in doubt with their funding only recommended to continue until the end of March 09. www.dwp.gov.uk/resourcecentre/john-elbourne-181108.pdf
- REVIEW OF GOVERNMENT’S OVERALL STRATEGY ON POPULATION AGEING
The new Minister for Pensions and Ageing Society, Rosie Winterton, has announced that the Dept for Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to publish a revised cross government strategy on ageing (Opportunity Age) in Spring 09. DWP has published a discussion paper and invited comment during Dec 08 / Jan 09. There will also be series of events. www.dwp.gov.uk/aboutus/2008/27-10-08.asp
This News and Policy Update is produced by Care & Repair England
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Every effort has been made to ensure the information above is correct. However, Care & Repair England cannot accept any responsibility for errors and omissions.
Care & Repair England is an Industrial and Provident Society with Charitable Status Reg 25121
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