Agenda item


Members gave consideration to a report which proposed an amendment to the Independent Living Policy, in relation to discretionary grants and as detailed in Section 3 of the report.


WLDC had offered DFG (Disabled Facilities Grants) for a number of years and within the legislation there were powers to offer discretionary grants.


West Lindsey had never utilised the powers available for a Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grant policy due to a high demand for the service and a lack of funding to cover the demand. No discretion was currently offered under the existing policy.


Funding was received from the Better Care Fund for Disabled Facilities Grants and the 2017-2019 Policy Framework for this stated that “areas have flexibility in how the fund is spent over health, care and housing schemes or services, but need to agree how this spending will improve performance in the following four metrics: Delayed transfers or care: Non-elective admissions (general and acute): Admissions to residential and care homes: and effectiveness of re-ablement


All grants were currently means tested and this testing determined whether an applicant needed to make a financial contribution.  This means test did not take into account any debts the applicant may have.  As the current policy allowed no discretionary grants, applicants who needed to make a contribution, on occasion had to reject the adaption as they could not meet the contribution, and this in turn could result in the resident remaining in their home unsafe and thereby potentially resulting in an early admission to care/residential home or an admission to hospital as a result of a slip/trip for example. 


It was hoped that this Policy change would allow the Authority to have discretion when dealing with applicants who found themselves in this situation and allow help to be offered where necessary through a grant.  It was stressed that all applications would still be means tested and any applicant offered a discretionary grant would have a land charge made against their property, to ensure that if the property was sold within a 10 year period the grant would be repayable to the Authority.


In concluding, Members were reminded that the monies for DFGs were funded externally and in effect did not impact on the Council’s budget.  The service was very much demand led and difficult to predict.  However, it was anticipated this policy change could be funded from within the Council’s current funding allocation.


Discussion ensued and in response to Members’ comments Officers confirmed that this initiative, or request for Policy change, had been borne out of the team’s experience of using the current Policy.


Whilst all were supportive of the change, there were concerns that those who could afford to pay should pay, and discretions should be used with caution.  By way of reassurance it was stressed that no other element of the Policy would change and those applicants who may be offered a discretionary grant would only be done so following an in depth financial assessment.


Members enquired how the Policy’s usage would be monitored and Officers advised that the use of the discretionary funding could be added as a measure and monitored through performance and delivery.


A Member made reference to circa £2m capital monies being available through the Better Care Fund and urged Officers to work with the organisation regarding how this money could be utilised.  Officers confirmed that this work was happening.


A Member posed a potential financial scenario for an applicant and sought indication as to whether they would receive assistance through the policy.  Officers undertook to investigate and respond outside of the meeting.


RESOLVED that the amendment to the Independent Living Policy, in relation to discretionary grants, as detailed in Section 3 of the report, be approved.

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