New policy for disabled grant applications

COUNCILLORS will decide on Tuesday whether to accept a new policy covering adaptations to homes to make life easier for disabled people.

It will be discussed by members of Scarborough Council’s Cabinet and the new policy aims to make the rules clearer for officers to follow the associated legislation.

In a report approved by Andy Skelton, the council’s head of environmental services, housing manager Andrew Rowe said that in November 2009 the council adopted a priority system to handle applications for Disability Facilities Grants (DFGs) and it had been running effectively.

He added: “Further to the adaptation of that system officers have realised that a broader policy is required to assist with the interpretation and implementation of legislation relating to the adaptation on homes for disabled people.

“Historically officers have used legislation to inform practice and decision making however the council has had no single written policy in respect of DFGs.”

The new policy aims to clarify:

l eligibility criteria and considerations needed to be taken into account

l the role of the council, the Home Improvement Agency and occupational therapists

l obligations of the council and grant recipients

l the application process and information needed

l how the prioritisation system works

l the ability of the council to discharge its duties by rehousing applicants to more suitable housing

l the process to follow if an application is refused

l the council’s charging policy.

Mr Rowe added: “It is the view of your officers that this new policy document provides clear guidance in relation to the decision making process in relation to DFGs and mitigates the council against the potential risk of legal challenge against decisions made.”

Consultation for the report was carried out with occupational therapists and service users.

Legal advice was also provided to help develop the new policy. And there were 24 home visits to households which had already received a grant as well as all of those which had been waiting for more than six months.