CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has said cutting the amount of time disabled people have to wait for vital adaptations to their homes should become a key priority for the Welsh Government over the next few years.
The AM is part of the Local Government Committee conducting a wide-ranging enquiry into the time Disabled People have to wait for their Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to pay for home adaptations and vital equipment such as hand rails or disability ramps.
Figures produced by Stats Wales for the committee showed that last year some councils took over 600 days to pay the grant. Newport Council took an average of 638 days to pay the Disabled Facilities Grant whereas Conwy Council that took just 180 days.
Last September Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, said she would take public bodies, including councils, to court if they fail in their obligations to Wales’ 710,000 older people.
Wrexham took 274 days to pay the grant in 2011 while Flintshire took 404 days.
Local Government Committee Member CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said:
“Our committee is looking closely at this issue to understand why there is such a large disparity in the amount of time it takes some councils to pay the Disabled Facilities Grant.
“Some local authorities have done a great job in bringing the waiting times down and getting money for vital repairs to disabled people quickly. It used to take over 1,000 days to get funding through to disabled people in Conwy, but now the wait is only 180 days.
“The problem is that in some areas councils take more than three times as long as this, which our enquiry shows is a real problem for disabled people.
“It makes sense for councils to up their game. £7,500 spent on adaptations can keep someone out of residential care for four years, which can cost over £100,000, so it makes long term financial sense, especially as the population gets older, to get the money administered quicker.
“We have found that disabled people and their carers are too confused about the funding streams that are on offer and we are not seeing enough close working between health services on the one hand and social services on the other to get the system moving for disabled people.
“Our enquiry is starting to bring some of these issues out and we hope to make some important recommendations to the Welsh Government over the next few months.”
Average waiting times for Disabled Facilities Grants
Table 1: PSR/002 Delivering Disabled Facilities Grants (2011-12)
Local authority Average wait
Isle of Anglesey 309
Neath Port Talbot 531
The Vale of Glamorgan 399
Rhondda Cynon Taf 225
Merthyr Tydfil 175
Blaenau Gwent 306