Agenda item

Questions to Portfolio Holders, if any.


(At least two clear days notice required, in writing, to the Proper Officer in accordance with Procedure Rule 15).




Question from Councillor Swindlehurst:


Q1.      A report compiled by Healthwatch Staffordshire, (reference below), concluded from interviews with 101 patient and staff, that there were some negative impacts on patients and staff related to waiting times for transport. This included lack of facilities for patients waiting and increased workload for staff.


The transport provider E-zec and the C.C.G. as commissioner recommend action in four areas, communication, logistics, facilities and customer service. The response from members of the commissioning team stated they met with E-zec on a monthly basis and reported to the Shropshire and Staffordshire Quality Surveillance Group.


What improvements have taken place since February 2019 in the four areas noted as requiring improvement?




I wish to make you aware that as this is not a service delivered by SMDC your question should be directed to the commissioning team.



Question from Councillor Atkins raised on behalf of Councillor Salt :


Q2.      SMDC will only pay a max of £30000 for disablement grant to make adaptations to homes. When was the last time this figure was reviewed & what scope is there for change? A recent local case had a figure of £56000, leaving people with significant disabilities facing incredible shortfalls.




The £30,000 limit on Disabled Facilities Grants is set by the Government nationally and was last reviewed in 2012. This limit is for mandatory grants which can be claimed as a right by eligible clients. Since the Housing Regulatory Reform Order of 2002 Local Councils have been able to set Housing Assistance Policies that enable the use of discretionary funding to top up the mandatory grant limit or provide additional assistance over and above the standard grant eligible works. At SMDC, we currently offer a maximum grant of £35,000 to all eligible clients as a matter of course, and we have the option of providing additional top up funding in cases where clients require large scale adaptations but do not have the means to contribute to the balance between the maximum grant and the overall cost of the works. Bearing in mind that DFG Funding is public money, grant authorities are held accountable for the decisions they make around additional funding and so each case must be considered on its merits and we must balance the applicant’s ability to pay with the harm that would arise from the adaptation not proceeding for lack of funding. We have recently come to an agreement with our Service Provider, Millbrook Healthcare Ltd that the Council will consider any proposal for additional assistance where the costs of the work far exceed the grant limit, following a fair assessment of the applicant’s means and a confirmation that the additional works are grant eligible and will meet the client’s needs not just now, but for the foreseeable future. This can be a significant cost-effective solution, as it means that all the necessary works can be completed in one go and there is subsequently less likelihood of a second or third grant application in the future. When you consider that there is no limit to the number of applications an eligible client can make, and that each application can be up to £35,000, it makes perfect sense to spend an extra £20-25k on the first application.


It is not the intention of the grant authority to unreasonably deny any eligible client the means by which they can remain living independently in their own home. If members are aware of any cases where disabled residents may be disadvantaged by the significant costs of larger adaptations, then the Private Sector Housing Team in Environmental Health will be happy to review the case with our service provider.


Cllr Atkins has asked the following additional questions:-


1.         What percentage of eligible clients require top up funding?

2.         Has the Council made representations to Government to raise the minimum amount of funding available, to be at least in line with inflation?

3.         Have there been any cases of hardship due to the maintenance bills for the equipment, which the user is responsible for?


A response to these questions would be provided after the meeting.