HC Deb 23 October 2003 vol 411 cc734-5W
Mrs. Calton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of waiting times for(a) stairlifts and (b) downstairs extensions and modifications when people have been assessed as unable to climb stairs or to use standard toilet or washing facilities; and if he will make a statement. [133484]

Phil Hope

I have been asked to reply.

Housing adaptations for disabled people such as stair lifts, level access showers and downstairs extensions can be grant aided under the disabled facilities grant programme. This is a mandatory grant available to eligible applicants in order to help them to continue to live independently in their own homes. It is funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and administered through local authorities.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's budget for this grant has been increased substantially to £100 million for this year. However demand for the grant remains high and waiting lists do occur. Local authorities are required to respond to any full application for a disabled facilities grant within six months.

The Government do not collect information on the length of any waiting lists. However jointly with the Department of Health we have issued draft guidance to local authorities setting out best practice in delivering this service. This includes target times for the complete delivery process including needs assessment, processing of the application and the completion of building works. These target times will depend on the complexity of, and priority attached to, individual cases but the guidance suggests that the maximum target time for the entire process should in any event be no more than 260 working days and only 80 working days in high priority cases. We are currently considering responses to this consultation and hope to issue final guidance to local housing and social service authorities before the end of this year.