Barnet Council has defended its record on awarding disabled facilities grants (DFG) following claims that the borough’s residents faced the longest waits in London for the cash.
The town hall claims it takes around five working days for it to approve the grants, which are designed to fund a wide range of home adaptations for people with disabilities.
But figures compiled by mobility equipment firm Oak Tree Mobility indicated that residents faced waiting 143 days on average for the grants compared to a UK average of just 46 days.
This was the longest waiting time of the ten London councils who responded to the company’s Freedom of Information (FOI) requests within the 20 working day deadline.
But the council says 143 days is the average time taken from a disabled facilities grant referral being received to the completion of the home adaptations. It says it actually takes around five days from receiving a completed application to approval of a grant, which would be the joint-fastest response time in London.
Disabled facilities grants are administered and paid by council housing departments and are used to fund adaptations costing more than £1,000. The funding, which is means-tested, can be used to make improvements such as extensions, stairlifts and heating controls.
The figures show that during the last five years London awarded £70.2million in disability facilities grants – the highest amount of any region in the UK. Barnet awarded £7.6m.
A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “It takes us around five days from receiving a completed application to approval of a disabled facilities grant (DFG) – equal to Camden and the shortest wait time. The figure we provided in the FOI response includes the average time taken from a DFG referral being received to the completion of the actual adaptions.
“It appears other councils may also have used different definitions of the start and end of the DFG process in responding to this FOI as we did, making it difficult to compare like for like.
“We are committed to helping disabled people live independently in their own homes – through DFGs, minor adaptions, providing specialist equipment, assistive technology and more.”