Friday, 16 December 2011

Disabled Facilities Grants - long, slow progress

The huge delay in providing adaptations to enable people to carry on living in their own homes was under discussion at the Communities Scrutiny meeting today. The delays are such that some people die before the changes are made to their home.

It's not a simple issue and it has been a problem for Cornwall Council and its predecessors for many years. Over the past year performance has improved, but it's hard to see the amount of need disappearing any time in the near future.

To give you an idea of waiting times, the time taken simply to get an assessment has been cut from 118 working days to 60 working days - but that is still three months. Once the assessment has been done, the works themselves can take up to 310 working days on average to complete. That's the figure for the biggest jobs. The waiting time for the smallest jobs still averaged 160 working days.

As I said, the performance recently has improved and this could be something to do with more money being put into the service. This year the total budget is about £6.5 million compared with about £4.2 million previously.

But the amount of money due to be spent in the future is still under review. The service says it has an agreement to spend up to £10 million over the next three years and hopes to make a further £6 million of efficiency savings. But averaged over the three years, this is actually a cut. That's why I proposed a recommendation to the Cabinet asking for a minimum budget for each of the next three years equivalent to the current year's spend. Unfortunately this proposal was defeated by a single vote and a more watered down recommendation asking for 'enough money to be spent to meet need' was agreed instead.

This is an area which should be a priority for our council. If there continues to be a backlog and people are dying or being forced to move out of their home before the work is done then we will have failed.

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