Decision Maker: Lead Cabinet member for Housing
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The purpose of this decision is to approve the pooling of the additional DFG funding received by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) of £80,215 within the Cambridgeshire Home Improvement Agency area.
The Cambridgeshire Home Improvement Agency (CHIA) is a shared service between South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City and Huntingdonshire established in 2012. The CHIA service enables the partner councils to meet statutory duties under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 to award Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) assisting vulnerable people to carry out essential adaptations to their homes.
works, enabling capital budgets in the region of £3.5m per year to be spent. For the financial year 2018/19, the DFG budget for South Cambridgeshire is £682,276 – received from the Better Care Fund, including £46,008 underspend from 2017/18. Up to the end of January 2019, £346,764 has been spent, with a further £127,928 committed. It is unlikely that all of the committed work will be completed within the financial year and that there will be an underspend of around £207,000. Whilst it is difficult to pinpoint why there is a continuing decrease in spend for South Cambridgeshire in 2018/19, it should be noted that this has been a continuing downward trend over the last three years. There is not a backlog of cases within the CHIA, OT referrals have reduced and there have been fewer major works required. During 2018/19 a marketing plan was implemented to ensure that residents and organisations were aware of the grant funding available. This included contacting voluntary groups, village wardens, community navigators, visiting support officers, GP practices, parish and district councillors and an article in the South Cambridgeshire magazine.
On 5th December 2018, MHCLG wrote to all local authorities informing them that an additional £55 million of capital funding for DFGs in 2018/19 had been made available. Local authorities were asked to confirm if they wished to receive further funding, with any unspent monies being re-allocated to an authority in greater need. Given the time constraints to spend the money by the end of March 2019 and the current position regarding a likely underspend, South Cambridgeshire District Council accepted the additional money on the proviso that the money could be pooled within the CHIA to maximise investment across the wider Cambridge area.
The funding allocation from the Better Care Fund can only be spent on Disabled Facility Grants or other agreed social care capital projects. It cannot therefore be used for any other general council purposes for South Cambridgeshire.
The demand for DFGs in Huntingdonshire far outstrips the funding available, with a projected overspend compared to the original Better Care Fund allocation for Huntingdonshire of more than £1M. It is therefore proposed that the additional funding be allocated to Huntingdonshire to help meet that deficit. This will ensure that the additional investment benefits residents within Cambridgeshire for the purposes of providing disabled facility grants and supports the financial stability of the Cambridgeshire Home Improvement Agency.
On 12th December 2018, confirmation was received from MHCLG that this approach was acceptable in terms of pooling the additional funding.
Pooling the additional DFG funding and underspend within Huntingdonshire is made within the spirit of good partnership working and supporting the work of the CHIA as a joint service. It will ensure that the additional funding is made available to the residents of Cambridgeshire rather than re-allocated elsewhere across the country.
To approve the allocation of the additional DFG funding of £80,215 to Huntingdonshire District Council.
Passing the money to Huntingdonshire District Council will ensure that we can maximise investment in the wider Cambridge area. In doing so, this will show our commitment to working in partnership and supporting the CHIA service.
Option 1: Given the promotional activity taken place during 2018/19, but still the projected underspend; the only alternative option would have been to refuse the additional funding.
Reason for Rejection: Refusal of funding would mean that investment would go elsewhere in the country and not benefit the residents of Cambridgeshire or support the shared Home Improvement Agency service.
Publication date: 12/02/2019
Date of decision: 12/02/2019
Effective from: 20/02/2019