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National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society: Disabled Facilities Grant (Funding)

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

Today the Government have launched “Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing an Ageing Society”. This strategy addresses the challenge of ageing, and what it means for housing and planning in England.

In our Green Paper “Homes for the Future”, we announced our vision for housing and an ambition to build 3 million more homes by 2020. In “Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods” we outline how this housing programme will respond to one of the great challenges for housing in the 21st Century, an ageing population.

The cross-Government strategy explains why change is needed: the significant financial impacts on the country given demographic pressures and the quality of life for older people.

In “Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods” the Government set out the need for planning for ageing, with a commitment to build all public housing to lifetime homes standards by 2011 and a new aspiration to build all homes to lifetime homes standards by 2013. It sets out a new vision for lifetime neighbourhoods and how this will be tested.

The strategy sets out the need for increased investment in repairs and adaptations services and improved housing advice and information, supported by an additional £35 million over two years from 2009-11.

“Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods” also outlines our programme of investment and reform of the Government’s disabled facilities grant programme, which currently helps nearly 35,000 live independently in their homes through the provision of major home adaptations. The work for which a disabled facilities grant may be made is wide ranging, providing for access to the property and access to the basic facilities within a home, such as walk-in showers and stair lifts.

Disabled facilities grants are predominantly received by older people and so are integral to this strategy. Our proposals for the modernisation and improvement of this important grant represent our response to the recommendations of the Bristol report published in 2005.

In response to rising demand we have already announced an increase in the disabled facilities grant which will take the national budget to £146 million in England for 2008-09. And today we are announcing the individual allocations for local authorities.

There will be further increases for the next two years which will bring the disabled facilities budget up to £166 million by 2010. This represents a significant investment by the Government in this important policy and will enable even more people to benefit from the programme. Changes being made to the programme include raising the limit on disabled facilities grant to £30,000.

Other changes to the means test will speed up the process and bring extra help for people working but on a low income. Changes to the rules of the scheme will also simplify and speed up the process of providing adaptations.

The full list of changes to the disabled facilities grant programme can viewed on the following link: http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housing managementcare/housingadaptations/

The strategy also makes it clear that housing plays a critical part in staying well and independent in later life. “Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods” seeks to strengthen the links between housing and health. Key principles are to ensure the services for older people are joined up and personal to them. “Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods” also sets out a new vision for specialised housing for older people with growing dependency supported by new investment of £80 million in extra care housing from the Department of Health.

The Government are also announcing today £190 million of funding for successful bids from the fifth housing private finance initiative (PFI) bidding round for schemes to deliver additional social rented housing.

Kent and Cheshire county councils and Stoke-on-Trent city council have been invited to work with Communities and Local Government to develop their proposals for schemes to deliver new extra care and supported housing. These new homes will include a range of assistive technology and allow for future adaptations enabling the elderly and the vulnerable to live independent lives and be part of their local communities.

This announcement follows a review of the capital build costs of delivering new build social rented housing through PFI, which demonstrates that the capital build costs for PFI procured units can be comparable with those for schemes funded through the Housing Corporation’s social housing grant. Communities and Local Government will work with the new schemes to take forward the next stage of the review to examine other costs associated with housing PFI projects.

“Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods” and the programme of change outlined above, sets a radical vision to turn the challenges of ageing into opportunities, to improve the lives of older people now and for future generations.

The publications “Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Housing Strategy for an Ageing Society”, “Disabled Facilities Grant—The Package of Change to Modernise the Programme” and “Disabled Facilities Grant 2008-09 Local Authority funding allocations” are all available in the Libraries of both Houses.