Redbridge sees London's biggest drop in Disabilities Facilities Grant spending and applications
PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 August 2019
Redbridge Council has defended its record of supporting disabled residents after it saw the biggest drop in Disabilities Facilities Grants of any London borough in the last 10 years.
Disabilities Facilities Grants (DFGs) are provided by local authorities to disabled residents whose conditions mean they need to make changes to their home.
Across the country, council spending on such grants has risen by a third in the last decade.
But figures obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request have revealed that Redbridge Council has seen the greatest decrease in spend on DFGs of any London borough since 2009/2010.
It also noticed the biggest drop in applications.
Back in 2009/2010, Redbridge handed out grants worth £1,504,500 to 116 applicants - an average of just under £13,000 per application.
But by the end of the last financial year those numbers had fallen to £634,094 across 39 applications.
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That means that despite falling applications and expenditure,the average grant per application actually rose to £16,258
Passionate disability rights campaigner Hollie-Anne Brooks thinks the issue is that people just aren't aware of the existence of DFGs.
She said: "Though it's great that the money is available when people need to access it, one of the major problems we currently have with the grant is awareness.
"It's critical that the people who need it most are aware that these life-changing grants are available to them."
Nationally, annual spending on DFGs has risen to more than £100,000,000.
A Redbridge Council spokeswoman said: "We're committed to helping residents live in their homes as independently as possible and understand how much these grants help our residents get the support they need to live safely and comfortably.
"That's why earlier this year, we successfully bid for over £2m to help elderly and disabled residents adapt their home - one of the highest amongst the north-east London boroughs.
"Additionally, cabinet agreed a range of new discretionary Home Improvement Grants including an Independent Living Grant and a Security Grant to help make the home environment more suitable for a disabled person to live.
"We will be attending Redbridge lunch clubs, the pensioners forum, day care centres and doctors surgeries to reach as many people as we can and if residents need access to this service we encourage them to contact us by calling 020 8708 7333."