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Blaenau Gwent: Extra £400,000 added to improving homes of residents who have a disability

AN extra £400,000 will be allocated over the next two years to allow adaptions to be made to the homes of Blaenau Gwent residents who have a disability.

At a Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council meeting on Thursday, September 21, councillors debated an update on how to finance the council’s building programme.

One of the programmes discussed was a proposal to increase the funding for disabled facilities grants (DFG) by an extra £400,000 over the next two years – effectively doubling the budget.

These grants are used to pay for legally required work done on behalf of disabled residents in order for them to live independently in their own home.

The council has allocated £200,000 a year for DFG’s within its Capital Programme up to the end of March 2026, which is supplemented by a small grant from Welsh Government.

The report explains that there is not enough money in the kitty to finish “outstanding applications” from previous years and deal with new applications this year.

Council leader Cllr Steve Thomas told councillors that applications for DFG’s had risen by 117 per cent.

This is due to the means testing element of the application process stopping in 2021/2022.

Part of the proposal in front of councillors included bringing back the means testing aspect of the application process.

Cllr Joanna Wilkins – Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Opposition group leader Cllr Joanna Wilkins said: “I’m disappointed that this hasn’t gone through scrutiny as I think some of the issues could have been ironed out a bit more.

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“We have a limited amount of information in this report, and I think this would benefit having a proper look at.

“I’m hugely uncomfortable taking something away from people without any consultation or risk assessment.”

Cllr Thomas said: “We’re not proposing to take anything away.”

He said he would “welcome” more dialogue with the opposition group on this issue but reminded councillors of the need to be “prudent” with council money in the current economic climate.

Deputy council leader, Cllr Helen Cunningham produced a tweak to the proposal.

Cllr Helen Cunningham – Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Cllr Cunningham’s solution would see the extra money allocated to DFG’s and allow a further report on “the full cost analysis” of reinstating the means testing to go in front of councillors.

This report would look at the impact reinstating means testing could have on people as well as council budgets.

Cllr Cunningham said: “This would ensure that the DFG’s are there for people who are unable to pay for them,

Cllr Wilkins responded: “The proposal is a sensible one as there is a huge amount of things we need to consider, and it is a vital we do offer this.”

The report was then approved unanimously.