Blog by Sue Adams, CEO of Care & Repair England


The much-trailed content of last week’s  Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 included some welcome extra capital spend, particularly for the country’s infrastructure. However, the only housing capital funding is for new home construction, again focussed on number of new units to be built.

Notable by its absence was any mention of capital funding to tackle the disrepair of our existing housing stock, even though this represents a precious national asset. This could all too easily fall into decline as poorer households are hit harder by escalating day to day living costs i.e. fuel and food.  

So despite the comments about levelling up, there was nothing in the Budget to help the 10 million people* living in poor housing. Even a modest capital allocation for housing stock retrofit, targeted at those whose health is being the worst affected by substandard housing, would have been a great step forward and resulted in significant return on investment through savings to the NHS.

Maybe opportunities to tackle cold homes will emerge as further details of the Energy Efficiency/ Net Zero proposals are announced. The concern is that short-term ‘first come, first served’ schemes to decarbonise individual homes won’t have much on offer for low income, older homeowners living in disadvantaged areas. Partial-cost grants towards heat pumps are of limited use to those living in low equity homes, who have no savings and limited incomes (let alone enough space e.g. small, terraced properties).


Home adaptations funding uncertainty

Another worrying omission in the Budget and Spending Review was any mention of the future level of capital funding for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG). This crucial financial assistance plays such a key role in enabling low-income, older and disabled people to carry out the adaptations that can help them live independently, safely and well in their own homes for longer.

The capital grant level for DFG has been specifically highlighted in previous Budgets/ SRs when additional funds have been allocated e.g. in the Nov 2020 Budget when the amount went up by £68m to £537m.

It is to be hoped that some of the additional funds awarded to the Dept for Health and Social Care will be used to at least maintain DFG provision from 2022-3 onwards.

 A four year clear settlement providing future DFG allocation amounts would be a great help to local authorities, especially for those pioneers working to integrate housing help and adaptations into new health and care systems. Certainty about ability to deliver over that longer timeframe is essential if we are to see effective adaptations provision embedded into national NHS Pathways.