NEWS AND POLICY UPDATE:
Information for the providers and commissioners of housing related services for older and disabled people
- HELP FOR PRIVATE HOUSING DISREPAIR LOST IN COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW
For the first time since 1949 there is no national funding allocated for private sector housing (PSH) from April 2011. Declining from £317 million in 10-11, zero funding next year is expected to result in cuts to equity release initiatives, adaptations, home improvement agencies, handyperson and emergency repair services, plus cessation of many regeneration projects. The conclusions of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Equality Impact Assessment of ending PSH funds are rather surprising given the extent of data about the incidence of vulnerable groups in non-decent homes. www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/17958592.pdf
- A PERFECT STORM: AN AGEING POPULATION, LOW INCOME HOME OWNERSHIP AND DECAY OF OLDER HOUSING – NEW REPORT
This report highlights the emerging policy and practice issues resulting from an increasing older population, large scale growth in low income owner occupation and the significant reduction in state help with private sector housing repair. Based on in depth analysis of trends in housing conditions, demography and tenure, alongside policy responses over the past half century, the report illustrates how failure to make the connection between health, social care and housing disrepair is not only costly, but has potentially dire consequences for individual older people. www.careandrepair-england.org.uk/pdf/a_perfect_storm_nov_10.pdf
- DATA SETS FOR THE ENGLISH HOUSING SURVEY PUBLISHED
Detailed data about household composition and housing stock condition is now available. www.esds.ac.uk/findingData/ehsTitles.asp
- NATIONAL FUNDING FOR HOME ADAPTATIONS & HANDYPERSON SERVICES TO CONTINUE
DCLG funds will continue to allocate specific funds for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) and handyperson services, but these will not be ringfenced and there are no planned sanctions if councils use the monies for other purposes. The DFG budget increases (10-11:£168.8m, 11-14 £180.00m pa, 14-15: £185m). Handyperson monies will decrease (10-11:£20m, 11-12: £15.5m, 12-13: £13.50, 13-14: £11.50 14-15: £10.50) www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/1745945.pdf
- LOCAL COUNCILS INFORMED OF INDIVIDUAL FUNDING SETTLEMENTS FOR 2011-12
DCLG have issued details of individual local authorities’ funding allocations. Handyperson money is listed in Table 8, Item t), described as ‘Housing Strategy for Older People’ along with Supporting People allocations Item s). Disabled Facilities Grant allocations are expected to be announced shortly. www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1112/grant.htm (general) www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1112/tabs1112.htm#ilb (tables)
- LOCALISM BILL
This wide-ranging Bill covers many issues including powers for communities to take over assets and local control of services. Part 5 is of particular relevance to ageing and housing as it covers radical planning reform, including a ‘Community Right to Build’, abolition of regional strategies and the creation of new neighbourhood planning arrangements. The Bill also covers changes to security of tenure in social housing, wider housing funding, abolition of Tenant Services Authority and the repeal of Home Information Packs. http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/localism.html Briefing: www.urbanforum.org.uk/files/ufpublic/2010_12_decentralisation_and_the_localism
- RADICAL CHANGES TO SECURITY OF TENURE FOR SOCIAL RENTED SECTOR PLANNED
‘Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing’ sets out proposed changes to the Housing Revenue Account, ‘affordable’ rents, fixed term tenancies, allocation policy and LA homelessness obligations.
Consultation deadline: 17.1.11 www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/
- WARM FRONT CLOSES DOOR IN FACE OF MAJOR FUNDING REDUCTION
WarmFront ceased acceptance of applications for grants on 15th Dec 10. All of the 2010-11 money has already been allocated and the funding available for the next two years has been cut by two thirds. People who have already made applications are expected to receive help before end March 10 and WarmFront plan to re-open for new applications on 1st April 2011. www.direct.gov.uk/warmfront
- ‘GREEN DEAL’ WOULD TRANSFORM FUTURE ENERGY EFFICIENCY HELP
Proposals for the new ‘Green Deal’ are set out in the recent Energy Bill. The up front costs of energy efficiency measures would have to be paid by householders via a ‘green deal charge’ on their energy bills over the next 25 years. The Green Deal is based on the premise that energy consumption reduces, thereby off-setting the charge. This would particularly impact on fuel poor people who previously under-heated their homes and who ‘absorb’ energy efficiency gains through higher comfort levels.
- HOMES AND COMMUNITIES AGENCY NOW ADMINISTERS SOCIAL RENTED DECENT HOMES FUNDS
£1.6m for Decent Homes improvements is now being made available via the HCA for council landlords to help tackle the backlog of homes that fail the Decent Homes standard, and £500m is available to ‘gap’ fund existing stock transfers. On 13th Dec bidding opened for this Decent Homes Backlog funding. www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/decenthomes.htm
- EVIDENCE OF THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF INVESTMENT IN SPECIALIST HOUSING
Research commissioned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) estimates the net benefit of investment in specialist housing for vulnerable and older people to be around £940 per person per year, equating to a total net benefit of around £640m per year.
- LIFETIME HOMES – NOT IN OUR LIFETIME? ENDING NATIONAL BUILD STANDARDS
After years of campaigning for improved design of all new homes, indications from CLG are that not only will Lifetime Homes Standards not be adopted, but that the national standards that already exist may go, replaced by a ‘local standards framework’. The first casualty was new and improved Building for Life standards for the HCA, widely consulted on earlier in the year, but which will not see light of day.
- KICKSTART MONEY USED TO BUY UP UNSOLD POOR DESIGN HOMES
The design of many unsold private homes purchased with public funds to provide social rented housing has been assessed as very poor. www.bdonline.co.uk/5009660.article?origin=BDbreakingnews
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE NEWS
NUMBER OF OLDER PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL SURGES
The number of older people being treated in hospital has risen by two thirds in a decade, adding to fears that cuts in social care will add to pressure on the NHS. In 2009/10 there was a 66% rise in the number of hospital stays for people over 75 compared with 1999/2000 and for those 60 to 74 years numbers were up by almost a half. Conditions such as arthritis, joint problems and back pain rose fastest with 1.1m admissions for these reasons, a rise of 82% in ten years. Over the same period heart disease and stroke death rates for under 75s dropped substantially; by 42% for men and 44% women.
SUDDEN RISE IN DELAYED DISCHARGE OF OLDER PATIENTS SPARKS FEARS OF WINTER CRISIS
After a steady decline year on year since 2007 the number of older people who remain in hospital due to delays in organising care at home or transfer to a care home has risen by 80% since May 10. Dept of Health figures on ‘bedblocking’ show that 7,000 patients who should have been discharged remained in hospital in Sept 10 – the highest figure for more than 3 years. www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8114454/Sharp-rise-in-elderly
TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR ADULT SOCIAL CARE
Adult Social Services now know their individual funding allocations for 2011-12. According to ADASS it heralds the largest reduction in funding in nearly 70 years at a time of unprecedented demand. The settlement amounts are for revenue and capital, the latter including funds that in the past were specifically for extra care or telecare expenditure, as these streams are no longer ringfenced.
COMMONS HEALTH COMMITTEE: SOCIAL SERVICES CUTS WILL AFFECT THE NHS
In its latest report on public expenditure, the Health Select Committee has disagreed with the Secretary of State’s assertion that the funding settlement will provide councils with enough money to sustain current eligibility levels. It voices concern about the extent to which the £1b earmarked NHS money will be used to bring about improvements in efficiency, preventive care and re-ablement. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmhealth/512/512.pdf
DEPT HEALTH’S VISION FOR SOCIAL CARE ‘CAPABLE COMMUNITIES AND ACTIVE CITIZENS’
The Coalition’s vision for adult social care emphasises prevention, re-ablement, links to health services and self help, and makes some reference to housing in achieving these objectives. However, in the context of localism, ending of targets, central directives and no funding ringfence for prevention, there are widespread concerns about local implementation as a more LAs apply ‘critical only’ criterion.
CHANCE TO PUT THE HOUSING LINKS CASE: EVIDENCE CALL FROM CARE FUNDING COMMISSION
The Commission set up by the Coalition to make recommendations about the future funding of adult care has called for evidence backed suggestions for reform.
Deadline 28.1.11 www.dilnotcommission.dh.gov.uk/files/2010/12/1.1-Call-for-Evidence-FINAL-pdf.pdf
PUBLIC HEALTH WHITE PAPER ‘HEALTHY LIVES, HEALTHY PEOPLE’ MENTIONS HOUSING
This White Paper sets out the Government’s long-term vision for the future of public health in England. Whilst there is significant emphasis on individual behaviour modification eg smoking, diet, the crucial role of housing is acknowledged eg. excess winter deaths, and more broadly ‘‘Neighbourhoods and houses can be better designed to support people’s health, such as by creating Lifetime Homes’
Comment deadline 8.3.11 www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Healthyliveshealthypeople/index.htm
MONEY & ADVICE
- REFORM OF SOCIAL WELFARE: PUBLICATION OF ‘UNIVERSAL CREDIT: WELFARE THAT WORKS’
This White Paper sets out the Coalition Government’s plans to introduce legislation to reform the welfare system by creating a new Universal Credit to replace many current benefits.
- END OF THE INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND
The Independent Living Fund, closed to new applicants since June 10, will definitely be phased out by 2015. Whilst the current 21,000 disabled recipients, who on average receive c£300 a week to pay for help to live independently, will be temporarily protected, the Dept for Work and Pensions (DWP) points out that LAs have statutory responsibilities with regard to supporting disabled people. http://services.parliament.uk/hansard/Commons/bydate/20101213/
- PENSIONS AND BENEFITS INCREASES ANNOUNCED
State pensions and most working age benefits will rise by 3.1% in April 11. Cold Weather Payments have been permanently increased to £25 from £8.50. www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/benefitrates2011.pdf
- CPI vs RPI? CONTROVERSY OVER BASIS OF PENSION INCREASES
The DWP is consulting on a proposal to allow private pension schemes to increase pensions in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of Retail Price Index (RPI). In recent years CPI has been consistently lower than the RPI. Neither is an accurate reflection of pensioner expenditure inflation which, because most pensioner income goes on necessities (housing, food, fuel), has been higher than either measure.
- REFORM OF DISABILITY LIVING ALLOWANCE CONSIDERS ADAPTATIONS LINK
A consultation paper on reform of Disability Living Allowance has been published by DWP. The question is posed about how the proposed Personal Independence Payment should take greater account of aids and adaptations in a way that reflects how they are used and paid for. The deadline for comments is 14th February 2011 www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dla-reform-consultation.pdf
AgeUK ESTIMATES CHANGES TO HOUSING BENEFIT COULD AFFECT 80,000 PENSIONERS
The forthcoming caps on local housing allowance and the linked housing benefit cap on the number of bedrooms per occupant will have a devastating effect on many older people, according to AgeUK. The problem has received the greatest attention in London where rents are higher, but the changes could impact on older people anywhere in the country. www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11644859
- FREE TRAINING: ADVISING OLDER PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR CARE CHOICES IN LATER LIFE
This new interactive self training module helps advisers to develop their knowledge about care choices for older people and to offer information and advice about making life choices. It is the third in a series of training packages that Care & Repair England has produced in partnership with First Stop (www.firststopcareadvice.org.uk ), the independent, national advice service about housing and care. www.careandrepair-england.org.uk/pdf/cofop_advisers.pdf
- ‘ALL ABOUT EQUIPMENT’: HELPFUL NEW WEBSITE WITH INDEPENDENT INFORMATION
The Disabled Living Foundation, Ricability and Assist UK have worked together to create this useful resource for anyone who wants to know more about the equipment that can assist independent living.
- LEADING CONSERVATIVE THINK-TANK PUBLISHES REPORT ABOUT OLDER PEOPLE
The Centre for Social Justice, a high profile think-tank headed by Conservative DWP Minister Iain Duncan-Smith, has published a first report from its inquiry into older people, The Forgotten Age: Understanding poverty & social exclusion in later life. There is a detailed section about housing issues, noting low income home ownership, affordability of home maintenance, adaptations and housing links to health & social care. publications making specific policy recommendations will follow.
- VISIONS OF BRITAIN 2020: AGEING AND RETIREMENT
As part of their ‘Visions of Britain 2020’ series, this report by the Young Foundation and Friends Provident considers how age boundaries are blurring, what old age means for us all and the challenging question of how retirement will be paid for.
- BREAKING THE MOULD – OLDER PEOPLE’S HOUSING, CARE AND SUPPORT
Through this project the National Housing Federation is aiming to make older people’s housing a mainstream issue and considering the business opportunities for housing associations working with older people. They have published a first stage report and film. www.housing.org.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=288&mid=835&ctl=Details&ArticleID=3534
- PUTTING RETIREMENT HOUSING IN ORDER – SCALE OF PROBLEMS REVEALED
Thousands of older people living in private retirement developments are facing financial hardship, legal battles and misery during their retirement due to the actions of some unscrupulous managing agents, claims AgeUK. Their new report, based on over 400 complaints, says that growing numbers of older people and their families are angry at the spiralling service charges and unfair fees they face when they sell or rent their retirement property. www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Putting%20retirement%20housing%20-%20corrected%20report.pdf?dtrk=true
- £100m TRANSITION FUNDING FOR ORGANISATIONS AFFECTED BY COUNCIL CUTS
A fund to support charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises affected by public spending reductions has been launched, administered by Big Lottery. Help may be available to organisations with a turnover between £50,000 and £10m, delivering specific front line services and deriving at least 60% of their funds from public sources. The fund will provide grants of between £12,500 and £500,000 to enable organisations to make the changes they need to become sustainable in the longer-term. www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/transitionfund
This News and Policy Update is produced by Care & Repair England
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