Hartlepool council chiefs review disability grants after big rise in demand

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Council chiefs are to investigate funding arrangements to cope with an increase in demand for grants to help disabled people live independently.

Hartlepool Borough Council completed 154 work projects funded by Disabled Facility Grants awarded by the council in 2014-15.

It’s obvious demand is far outstripping supply year on year

Councillor Alan Clark

That was up from 116 grants made in the previous year to pay for things such as stairlifts and home extensions.

But councillors on the Regeneration Services Committee expressed concerns about the funding arrangements after hearing 119 applicants were on the disabled grants waiting list at the end of the last financial year for work costing an estimated £540,100.

The budget for the whole of this financial year is around £747,000.

Councillor Alan Clark said: “It’s obvious year on year demand is far outstripping supply.

“What more can be done about that?”

Nigel Johnson, the council’s head of housing, said the grants are mainly funded through central government money but the pot is topped up from cash not spent by the council’s Children’s and Adults Department.

But he said that extra funding comes late in the financial year.

Mr Johnson said: “That makes it very difficult to manage but so far we have managed it.

“We would welcome anything that could help us.”

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “I think it is a vital piece of work and we need to ensure we get the funding flow absolutely right.”

A report will go to the council’s Finance and Policy Committee later.