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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 15th July 2013

 

Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

Disabled Facilities Grants Delivery Improvements

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             The purpose of this report is to advise Cabinet of the changes made in the processing of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to improve its delivery time, and to agree further changes planned for 2013-14.

Recommendations

1.             That the action plan in Appendix 4 to this report be agreed.

2.             That a copy of this report be submitted to the Corporate Resources, Social Care and Health, and Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committees for information purposes.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To obtain approval of the proposed next steps for the improvement in the delivery times for DFGs.

2.             To keep relevant scrutiny committees informed of progress in the delivery of the DFG service.

 

Background

2.             The approval and payment of Disabled Facilities Grants are mandatory and form one of the Welsh Government's national performance indicators, PSR/002.

3.             Since 2008 this Council has acknowledged the time to deliver a DFG, from the first point of contact when client requests adaptations through to the delivery of the works, had to be improved.  Officer time and financial resources have been invested in the service to secure improvements and this has been reflected in our performance improving over the last few years as detailed below.

 

 

 

Performance Indicator

Delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGS)

Service Perf.

2009/

10

Perf.

 

2010/

11

Perf.

 

2011/

12

Perf.

 

2012/13

Perf. Wales

2012/13

& VOG 2013/14 target

Private Sector Renewal

PSR/002: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a DFG

802

569.

398

346

326

 

Private Sector Renewal

PSR/009a: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a DFG for children and

young people

N/A

1,139

647.

454

377

(Actual   510 )

 

Private Sector Renewal

PSR/009b: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a DFG for adults

N/A

544

392

337

321

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.             The improvement in the delivery of DFG's has been noted by the Welsh Government in their published document 'Local Authority Service Performance 2011-12'.  In this publication, it stated the Vale of Glamorgan has seen three years of decreases in completion times and that the Vale of Glamorgan has seen the largest increase in delivery improvement.

5.             This is also reflected in the Council's position in the delivery time of DFG's compared to other authorities.  In 2009/10 the Council was 22nd with the longest delivery time across Wales. However, in 2010/11 our rating had increased to 20th and in 2011/12 the Council was 17th, supporting the data that our service performance is improving both in terms of our delivery time and in comparison to other authorities.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             Over the last 6 years officers and elected members have worked, using best practice examples, to improve the council's delivery time for DFGs.  The service has also been reviewed by Internal and external Audit.  See completed Action Plan which dealt with previous actions and audit recommendations, attached as Appendix 1

7.             In Feb 2013, a document detailing guidance and priorities for DFG’s was adopted following review of best practice across Wales.  This document sets out the criteria within which decisions are made on what adaptations are funded to ensure a transparent approach for clients.  This public document also details an appeal mechanism for dealing with complaints where the adaptations offered do not meet the clients expectations.

8.             The information management system used to record and monitor DFG’s has been further developed to enable more in depth reporting on DFGs to include the reporting on 'stages' within the DFG process.  Through this system internal monitoring was introduced in April 2012 to measure 3 key stages in process;

a. OT 1st contact to OT recommendation received by DFG team

b. Referral to DFG team to Approval of Grant

c. Approval of Grant to certified date.

This has provided an early warning system if performance is dropping during the early stages of the DFG.

9.             Introducing this stage monitoring enabled action to be implemented more quickly during 2012, when concern was raised that the delivery times of the first stage of the DFG process was increasing.  A resourcing issue within the Occupational Therapist team was quickly identified that would have consequences for the DFG delivery time.  As a direct result, additional Agency OT staff were employed by Public Protection to assist in reducing the delivery times of this stage.  This additional resource has reduced the time clients are now waiting for their initial assessment from 9 months in April 2012 to 2.5 months in June 2013.

10.        This additional OT resource will continue to be supported in the future through the direct employment of an OT within the DFG team reflecting best practice in other authorities. In addition, a further agency OT is being employed over the summer to reduce and ultimately remove the waiting list for an OT assessment for DFGs.  

11.        Over the past 12 months officers have continued to seek improvements in the DFG process to improve performance further.  In seeking out these improvements, officers have reviewed best practice in other Welsh Authorities and included reviewing practices in Merthyr Tydfil, the Council with the quickest delivery of DFG's in Wales. .

12.        In response to the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee’s 'Inquiry into Home Adaptations’. Merthyr Tydfil Council published their thoughts on Best Practice which is attached as Appendix 2 to this report. 

13.        One of the key issues that has concerned the Council relates to the inconsistency in the way some authorities are collecting data.  The author commented "I can confirm that not all local authorities are using the correct ‘start date’ for the performance indicators (PSR 002, PSR 006 and PSR 009 (a) and (b)). This should not be the case as the Performance Indicator Guidance Document is very clear".  This is a concern as some authorities may be performing worse than they are actually reporting which adversely affects this council in relation to our ranking with this PI..

14.        The response also recognises that Children & Young Peoples DFG applications are usually more complex, of higher value and therefore take longer to complete. This will invariably be the case even when backlogs have been dealt with.

15.        In comparing our service with Merthyr's Tydfil's opinion on innovative delivery of DFGs it must be highlighted that the majority of their practices have already been incorporated into our service as outlined in Appendix 3. These practices include;

Providing a fast track stair lift service

Refining the application process

E-referrals for Occupation Therapists recommendations.

Joint feasibility visits with OT's and DFG Surveyors

Refinement of a select pool of expert local contractors

Use of schedule of rates/ contractor framework

In- house agency

16.        To ensure the additional volume of assessments in the system do not have a negative impact on the delivery of adaptation works during 2013/14, additional revenue and capital funding has been provided to address the OT waiting list and to significantly improve our performance  indicators.  With the additional funding in place a further action plan has been developed which should ensure nobody is on the OT waiting list for more than 2 weeks and again will make significant improvements to the Council's delivery time for DFGs. The action plan for this 2013/14 is included as Appendix 4.

17.         Whilst the Commissioner for Older People has recommended that no DFG case should take longer than 365 days, through the changes already put in place, the additional resources invested in the service and the changes planned, our 2012/13 average of 346 is below this time and it is anticipated that our average delivery time for DFG's in 2014/15 will continue to fall to below 300 days.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

18.        There is an identified capital budget for the approval and payment of Disabled Facilities Grants

19.        The Occupational Therapy Team has restructured to ensure permanent staffing is in place. A recruitment programme was initiated and all but one vacancy is now filled. Additional resource specifically focussed for children has been secured by Adult Services from Cardiff and Vale UHB.  Public Protection will fund an Occupational Therapist post to support the assessment of clients requesting assistance to adapt their home.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.        The provision of DFG's allows for clients to remain in and improve their home.  New works are required to meet the relevant regulations relating to the sustainability of construction.  This scheme also provides for greater independence.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.        There is a statutory duty on the Council to provide Disabled Facilities Grants under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

22.        The Council, via its social services department, has further duties under various legislation including the Chronically Sick and Disabled Peron Act 1970 and the Children Act 1989, to ensure Adults and Children's assessed needs are met.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.        None directly relevant to this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.        There are no specific equal opportunities implications arising from this paper.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.        Housing

To provide better access to affordable, good quality, suitable housing and deliver effective housing advice, support and prevention services. 

Providing support and advice

Assist people to live independently in their homes by reducing the time taken to deliver Disabled Facilities Grants and delivering the Accessible Homes Policy.

Policy Framework and Budget

This report is for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

This report is not ward specific

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

Social Care and Health

Housing and Public Protection

Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Elen Probert, Principal Housing and Pollution Officer - 01446 709833

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Legal Services - Jodi Winter

Principal Finance Officer - Rob Ingram

Operational Manager - Suzanne Clifton

Head of Service - Adult Services - Lance Carver

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services.

 

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