What can a cash strapped local authority do if the law requires that a grant be paid within 12 months of an application? It appears that about half have decided to restrict access to the application form.
A research study undertaken by students at the School of Law, Leeds University, funded by the charity Cerebra and with local support from the Access Committee for Leeds found that about half of local authorities in England do not make application forms freely available for home adaptation grants – known as Disabled Facilities Grants.
Key findings included:
- The law imposes strict timescales for the processing Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) – but if local authorities withhold the application form, they can deny individuals their right to apply for a grant and stop the ‘clock ticking’ for the purposes of the statutory timescales.
- As the research report notes, a failure to make forms available is not only frustrating the will of Parliament (para 5.02) it is also frustrating the will of the Government, which has increased significantly the relevant grant to local authorities for DFG awards (para 2.15-2.17);
- Given the prevalence of the problem identified by the research it suggests that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government should use his powers to ensure that failing local authorities act in accordance with the law and relevant guidance (para 5.11).
The full report (including a Summary) is can be downloaded by clicking here.
Last year a similar research project, concerning adaptations to family homes to accommodate the needs of young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders suggested that adaptations of this kind were highly cost effective (that an investment in adaptations amounting to £300,000 had avoided social services expenditure of about £1.5 million – ie a five-fold return on the investment). The 2017 report can be accessed at by clicking here.