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Disabled tenants no longer face means tests under plans

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 11, 2014

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A COUNCIL is preparing to scrap its policy of means testing disabled people applying to have their homes adapted to suit their needs - because it is costing too much.

South Derbyshire District Council said means testing tenants and then carrying out work was costing it thousands of pounds in VAT which could not be claimed back or be made up by contributions from tenants.

It also said under the current system some tenants were ‘missing out on adaptations which would improve their lives’, with many put off or deemed ineligible by the process.

Currently, the council receives funding for the scheme through a Government grant, allowing households in which someone lives with disabilities to apply for a disabled facilities grant (DFG), which covers work, such as extensions or having ramps or rails installed, worth up to £30,000, depending on the person’s income.

Any work costing more has to be met by the household.

Figures seen by the Mail revealed 17 requests for support failed to progress over the past five years, with tenants deciding they would have to contribute too much towards the work or were unwilling go through the testing process.

The authority instead intends to scrap the current system, cutting out red tape and instead offer ‘discretionary assistance’, with chiefs insisting more people will have access to support and no longer have to meet any of the cost.

A district council report said: “It is costing the council more money in VAT than it receives in tenant contributions. Furthermore, some tenants are missing out on adaptations which would improve their lives.

“Therefore members may wish to consider moving away from providing grants for council adaptations to discretionary assistance. In essence this means that a contractor would carry out the works on behalf of the council, the council can recover the VAT and tenants would no longer be required to contribute.

“Providing discretionary assistance will enable more vulnerable tenants to assess support to enable them to remain in their own home for longer.”

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