Cash spent on adapting homes for disabled Portsmouth residents soars by £1m

The cost of disabled facilities grants in Portsmouth has risen due to an ageing population and more people wanting to stay at home
The cost of disabled facilities grants in Portsmouth has risen due to an ageing population and more people wanting to stay at home
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CASH spent on adapting homes in Portsmouth to make them more accessible increased by more than £1m last year compared to a decade ago.

In line with national trend money awarded through disabled facilities grants (DFGs) soared by 352 per cent in the city between 2008 and 2018.

The means-tested grants, which can be given in sums of up to £30,000 per individual, are spent on improving accessibility in homes with equipment such as wheelchair ramps, stairlifts and specially adapted bathrooms.

Freedom of information requests revealed that last year £1,409,966 was spent on DFGs in Portsmouth, up from £312,254 in 2008. Demand also rose from 50 to 179 applications.

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Clare Hardwick, Portsmouth City Council's head of private sector housing, explained why need for the cash has increased. 'Given the pressures on health and social care and the rising number of people living with impairments or long-term conditions, as well as an ageing population, there is a greater demand to enable more people to remain independent in their homes,' she said. 

'With relatively straight forward adaptations in the home, such as replacing a bath with a level access shower, or fitting a stairlift, we can help people to remain safe and improve their independence and quality of life in their own homes through DFGs.'

Grants are paid for through the better care fund, government funding which is used by the NHS and local authority. Previously cash was given directly to the council to distribute.

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Applicants have to go through a nine to 10 step process to prove they are need of the money including an evaluation by an occupational therapist.

But Geoff Holt, the founder of Wetwheels Maritime Adventures - which provides trips in the Solent for wheelchair users, said the system was 'lengthy'. He said: 'I am familiar with the DFG system, I have experienced it. It did not help me when I needed it the most because of the process involved.

'The process from start to finish is long. People can't wait three or four months for a ramp.

'And I'm concerned that there are many people who aren't aware of it.’

Across England the collective spend through DFGs has grew by more than 25 per cent.