Funding for grants helping making homes accessible for disabled people will need to be looked at in future with demand outstripping resources and the potential for means testing to be scrapped in future.
Pembrokeshire County Council administers a disabled facilities grant for people who need to make changes to their homes to ensure they can stay living there with an annual budget set at £750,000 for the last five years. However, a report to Tuesday’s (November 17) services overview and scrutiny committee indicates that the cost each year tops the cap with councillors suggesting the budget level requires looking at again.
In 2019/20 the actual spend on the statutory service was £1.018million, and was £1.016m the previous year.
Members also heard that a consultation is due to start on scrapping or amending the means testing system in place for the adult grants which could see an increase in demand.
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Michelle Bateman said a move from means testing “would have a huge impact on us” considering the ageing population of Pembrokeshire and the fact that it could lead to those that could afford to make their own adjustments asking for the council to do it instead. There are two types of grant available for work to improve access, bathing facilities and heating and power – a disabled small works grant with a maximum award of £5,000 and a disabled facilities grant with a maximum award of £36,000.
Staff have been “on the frontline” supporting people in their homes, with the number of visits increasing again after lockdown, and they were thanked by director of social services Jonathan Griffiths as well as the other members of the committee. The work had been hindered by the Covid-19 with only 18 completions at the end of quarter two, compared to 70 at the same point in 2019/20, and all those 18 cases had been approved before lockdown.
A report to committee adds that since the easing of restrictions the occupational therapy team had re-prioritised cases and restarted visits with 80 people currently waiting for assessment, the longest wait being from February