£500,000 boost for disabled housing in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

A council grants pot for improvements to disabled people’s homes has received a £500,000 boost.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s budget for Disabled Facilities Grants was given the one-off injection by the national Better Care Fund.

There will be an increase in demand for Disabled Facilities Grants and increased pressure on that budget

Councillor Stephen Thomas

It will help to reduce the waiting time people are currently facing to get things like stairlifts, ramps and downstairs bathrooms to allow them to continue to live in their own homes.

The extra cash was welcomed by the council’s Adult Services Committee but memberssaid long term funding needed to be looked at as more people are staying at home for longer with help instead of going into residential homes.

Councillor Stephen Thomas said: “There will be an increase in demand for Disabled Facilities Grants and increased pressure on that budget.

“I think the authority needs to be feeding into the Local Government Association and really highlight the pressures we are going to be facing if we are going to meet the level of demand in future.”

Funding arrangements for the grants was passed to the committee to explore after concerns from the council’s regeneration services body.

It was due to concerns about how demand for the grants was outweighing funding, meaning people are waiting longer for work to be carried out.

Jill Harrison, the council’s assistant director of adult services, said: “In the Government’s latest spending review it was said there would be more money nationally, so there has been a recognition nationally that Disabled Facilities Grants is an area that needs further investment.

“It is something we will also raise through the Better Care Fund discussions.”

The current waiting time, from referral to completion, is 207 days.

Coun Allan Barclay, the council’s Armed Forces Champion, said the availability of the grants should be publicised more, particularly to ex-servicemen and women.

In the last 12 months, the council completed 183 adaptations with stairlifts and accessible shower facilities the most common.

The grants, of up to £30,000, are open to any disabled residents provided they have lived in the property for at least five years.

Applications for adaptations considered urgent by an occupational therapist are processed immediately and are not subject to the usual waiting list.