Effective from 2019
Approved by: Zelda Wolfle
Review date: 2022
Housing adaptations can often play an important role in enabling a disabled person to remain in the comfort and safety in their own homes, by restoring or promoting independent living or to use their home more effectively.
The link between housing and wellbeing is increasingly acknowledged. ‘The right home environment is essential to health and wellbeing, throughout life.’ (Association of Directors of Adult Social Care 2014 p3). A suitable, well adapted home can improve quality of life, wellbeing, enable safe access and increase independence to prevent, reduce or delay care needs. Appropriate, accessible housing is vital in addressing people’s needs and enabling them to meet their chosen outcomes efficiently and cost effectively.
There is greater focus on supporting people with disabilities to consider how their housing needs can be met in the longer term. The council will look at the best use of resources by looking to keep tenants in their own home where possible, or through options to relocate to a more suitable property.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance and understanding of Reading Borough Council’s approach to the provision of adaptations to support their tenants with the management of long term health issues or disability to remain living in their home. It is to set out the criteria by which RBC will assess requests for adaptations to their properties.
This policy applies to residents living in social housing properties, both adults and children who require adaptations in their homes. Private Sector housing adaptations are provided through Disabled Facilities Grants. Please refer to Readings Disabled Adaptation and Housing Renewal Policy for more information.
This policy refers to and only applies to disabled and older people. Under the terms of this policy, we have used the definition of disability from the Equalities Act 2010, which states a person is disabled ‘if they have a physical, mental or sensory impairment that has a substantial and long-term (i.e. more than 12 months) adverse effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’
This document makes reference to the legal requirements and policies that must be adhered to. We have had regard to legislation including (but not limited to) the following:
Applicable to adults – Section 1 of the Care Act states that local authorities have a general duty to promote the wellbeing and independence of the disabled person. This includes the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Therefore home adaptations are highly relevant to the individual’s wellbeing and regard should be given to their own views, wishes and feelings.
Section 2 places duties on the local authorities to identify, provide and arrange services that help people prevent developing needs for care and support or delay people deteriorating such that they would need on-going care and support.
However, eligibility criteria from the Care Act or any other legislation should not be applied to adaptations, however the principles of wellbeing should be considered.
Continues to apply to children, it gives local authorities a duty to assess and assist chronically sick or disabled children that may be necessary and appropriate with assistance in arranging adaptations or the provision of additional facilities to promote safety, comfort and convenience.
Legally protects people from discrimination. Section 29 states that the council, in providing a service to the public, must not discriminate against a person with a protected characteristic.
In determining this policy, regard has been given to Reading Borough Council’s Housing Allocations Scheme 2016, which complies with the above Act.
Local Authorities have a statutory duty to provide grant aid to disabled people for a range of adaptations to their home. This will be explored in more detail in the policy.
Reading Borough Council promotes equal opportunities and, in doing so, has developed an equalities plan to underpin equality and diversity in all services that we provide. In line with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, Reading Borough Council will:
This document can be made available in other languages and in large print or audio transcript if required.
For major adaptations within council homes, funding is provided within the Housing Revenue Account, rather than using Disabled Facilities Grants, which are available to people living in privately owned, rented or Housing Association properties. However, the council follows the rules applied to Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) adaptation policy whereby a maximum limit of £30,000 is available to fund a major adaptation. In circumstances where the proposed works are above this limit, the council will discuss with the Head of Housing the options on a case by case basis. This will include options for re-housing to a more suitable property, or increasing the maximum limit.
Currently, council tenants are not subject to means testing, because funding comes directly from the Housing Revenue Account and adaptations can provide long term benefits for the property as well as the tenant. However, this is subject to review should budgetary pressures require the council to reflect a more equitable distribution of funds to its services.
In order to manage this annual budget, applications for adaptations will be prioritised using the adaptation ‘Prioritisation Tool’ (See appendix 1) as demand often exceeds the funding available.
Reading borough council will normally only consider a request for major and minor adaptations for tenants if the person:
If the person is under occupying. For example, if one person was living in a three bedroom house, and there are alternatives to consider we will look to support them to move to a more suitable property, and liaise with the Under Occupation and Transfer Officer. These requests will be considered on a case by case basis.
For the tenant to be eligible for the Under Occupation incentive they have to have rights to the property and the tenancy. If the person has succeeded the tenancy only, but doesn’t have rights to stay at the property they don’t get any financial help.
If eligible the tenant receives £1000 cash incentive, minus any rent arrears and recharges. They also receive removal cost and disconnection and reconnection of white goods.
Tenants can contact their Housing Officer, Housing Support Worker or Social Care Service to request an assessment of need to assess whether adaptations are necessary and appropriate. They will then decide whether to send a Social Care Occupational Therapist (OT) or refer to the Housing OT. (See appendix 2– Major adaptation process for Council and Affinity tenants).
The Council will only consider adaptations if an Occupational Therapist (OT) has assessed the household situation and recommended that the works are both necessary and appropriate, given the nature of the disability.
In all cases, the Council and the Occupational Therapist will work together to ensure that:
The Council has the final decision on whether to accept an OT’s recommendations and ultimately, adapt its properties.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) Order 2002 the Council has wide discretionary powers to provide financial assistance for repairs, improvements and adaptations to living accommodation. This includes help with the cost of moving and adapting or improving another property where it is deemed to be a more cost effective option. It is therefore the policy of the Council to examine all the options available to the individual before immediately embarking on plans to adapt the current property where major adaptations are required.
Adaptations are split into two categories – minor adaptations and major adaptations.
Minor adaptations feature prominently amongst the preventative services to maximise independence. There is a £1000 limit applicable to each minor adaptation, and minor works can include but are not limited to:
This is works that cost over £1,000 and although not exhaustive, can include the following:
It is RBC’s intention to match the same provision for those living in the private sector, who are eligible for a DFG. Therefore this policy reflects the provisions set out within the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, as follows:
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant to and from the dwelling, the building in which the dwelling or, as the case may be, flat is situated;
Making the dwelling safe for the disabled occupant and other persons residing with him/her;
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant to a room used or usable as the principal family room;
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room used or usable for sleeping;
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room in which there is a lavatory, or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility;
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room in which there is a bath or shower (or both), or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility;
Facilitating access by the disabled occupant to, or providing for the disabled occupant, a room in which there is a wash hand basin, or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility;
Facilitating the preparation and cooking of food by the disabled occupant;
Improving any heating system in the dwelling to meet the needs of the disabled occupant or, if there is no existing heating system there or any such system is unsuitable for use by the disabled occupant, providing a heating system suitable to meet his needs;
Facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of a source of power, light or heat by altering the position of one or more means of access to or control of that source or by providing additional means of control;
Facilitating access and movement by the disabled occupant around the dwelling in order to enable him to care for a person who is normally resident there and is in need of such care;
Such other purposes as may be specified by order of the Secretary of State.
Council tenants may organise their own adaptations privately and at their own expense, subject to agreement from the council. In all cases, tenants must obtain written agreement from the Council before carrying out any alterations or adaptations to their property. The Council have a right to refuse permission if the work would interfere with any maintenance on the property, may cause a potential health and safety risk or would breach any regulatory requirements, or affect other tenants. The written request will need to state what works and adaptations will need to be carried out and who will be undertaking the works. Tenants must not start any works without first gaining written permission from the Council. The Council may inspect the completed works to ensure they have been carried out satisfactorily. Tenants will be responsible for the repair and maintenance of the adaptations that they have arranged for the duration of the tenancy. The Council will not be liable for any damage or injury caused by adaptations not installed by the Council.
This section of the policy only relates to adaptations exceeding £1000.
If the Council at the advice of the Technical Officer deems that it is not reasonable and practicable to adapt the property, applicants will be requested to consider transferring to a more suitable property, for example
This lists the adaptations that will not usually be funded under the adaptation process, and is not exhaustive.
Other options will be considered where extensive adaptations have been requested. These include:
It is the Council’s policy to discuss at an early stage other options available to meet the tenant’s needs. This will include offering a transfer to appropriate alternative accommodation.
If available the alternative accommodation would need to meet the following suitability conditions:
If the tenant refuses the option of more suitable alternative accommodation, landlord permission for major adaptations to adapt their property would only be given in exceptional circumstances where a move is not considered advisable by a medical practitioner. For all major adaptations, the council will discuss with the tenant the option of a transfer to alternative accommodation that better meets the needs of the disabled person.
Demand for major adaptations is high, and therefore they have to be prioritised using the ‘Prioritisation Tool’ which determines their position for works to be carried out in conjunction with the date of assessment.
Where a major adaptation above £1,000 has been completed at a property, the expectation is that the disabled tenant remains living at that property for a minimum of five years. However, there may be circumstances where this is not possible e.g. due to a change in need from a deterioration or new medical condition the property is no longer suitable and cannot be adapted further.
Where extensive adaptations have been carried out at a property and the disabled tenant dies, or is unable to remain at the property, the remaining household members may be encouraged to consider alternative accommodation to allow the adapted property to be let to a disabled person.
The council is committed to supporting people in providing suitable housing for its tenants. The council welcomes feedback that enables it to improve services. The council has an established corporate complaints procedure for dealing with appeals and complaints. All council officers have copies of the leaflet explaining how to make a complaint.
A complaint should be linked to the council’s systems and procedures and may be about a delay, lack of response, discourtesy or any item that leaves cause for dissatisfaction with the council’s conduct. Where tenants remain unhappy with the outcome of the formal complaint, they may wish to contact the Local Government Ombudsman.
The one will not be considered without the other unless one of the above already exists.
Description: Hard standing is a level parking area which provides safe access from the car to the property. A dropped kerb is when the existing kerb to the pavement is lowered to allow vehicular access.
Factors to be considered:
Note: The Council has the final decision on whether to accept an OT’s recommendations and ultimately, adapt its properties.