Procedural Comments

Procedural Comments


  1. Capability Scotland is one of Scotland’s leading providers of employment, education and support services to disabled people, their families and carers. The organisation’s direct service provision is combined with campaigning, consultancy and advice to ensure that the organisation functions as an ally of disabled people as they strive to gain full equality, choice and control in their lives.
  2. Capability is also one of theScottish Government’s Key Strategic Partners for housing and,along with the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living (GCIL),we have recently undertaken an ambitious involvement project aimed at radically improving disabled peoples’ access to suitable housing.

Procedural Comments

  1. Capability is pleased that the Scottish Government decided to withdraw Housing Investment Guidance Note (HIGN) 2011/05 and consult more widely on its contents and implications. Capability is a member of the Adaptations Working Group which was established by the Scottish Government as a cross sector group to take forward the recommendations of Wider Planning for an Ageing Population.Part of the group’s remit is to consider whether fundamental changes are required to funding of adaptations services. As such we feel the group should have been consulted before HIGN 2011/05 was issued and hope the Scottish Government will take our concerns into account.
  1. Furthermore the Scottish Government did not consult with housing providers, local authorities or disabled people and no equality impact assessment of the policy change was published. This failure is disappointing given the excellent work the Scottish Government has done in the past year in partnership with Capability Scotland and Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living to engage with disabled people on housing issues[1].

General Comments

  1. We acknowledge the need for changes to the funding of adaptations across all tenures. Economic resources are limited and are likely to become more limited in the years to come. There are also major disparities between funding arrangements, procedures and outcomes in different local authority areas and across different tenure types. Other major concerns identified by our engagement work and by our advice and support team include the complexity of the adaptations procedure, a lack of transparency, the length of waiting time for adaptations and the suitability of the adaptations once provided.
  1. While we agree there is a need for major change, we do not believe that the Government’s proposed strategy of reducing its contribution to stage 3 adaptations – particularly at short notice - will adequately address any of these problems. Rather, the Scottish Government should consider a more systemic, long term approach to reform of funding for adaptations.
  2. Without wishing to pre-empt the findings of the Adaptations Reference Group we would suggest a more personalised approach, attaching rights and entitlements to individuals based on their need rather than their tenure type. We would also urge the Scottish Government and local authoritiesto pool resources from health, housing and social care budgets to ensure joint working andincreased investment in equipment and adaptations in the future. We believe that as well as enabling disabled people to live independently, these steps are in line with the Scottish Government’s preventative agenda and will lead to massive savings by reducing hospitalisation and future demand for residential care.

Question 1/2/3: With a funding threshold of £300/£500/£1,000, how would you maintain your current level of provision of adaptations to your tenants? What would be the implications for planned efficiencies, rent levels and your financial reserves?

  1. There are currently thousands of disabled tenants in Scotland on waiting lists for essential adaptations. Capability’s advice service has receives a steady stream of calls from individuals who have been told that their landlord does not have the money to carry out the adaptation which would allow them to use the toilet, wash, cook or spend time with their family. In one case an individual was told that it was unlikely that she would be given a wet room in the next three years as there was already a huge backlog for stage 3 adaptations.
  2. We are concerned that by reducing its contribution to stage 3 adaptations, the Scottish Government will make it impossible for many Registered Social Landlords to maintain their current level of provision of adaptations. This is particularly worrying given that RSLs have no legal duty to perform these adaptations.
  3. The average cost of adaptations is thought to be around£2,267 per property. Applied to all of the adaptations carried out in the last three years, the new guidance would cut government funding by a massive 41%[2]. RSLs have indicated that they will not be able to meet this cost without passing the expense on to their tenants. This is particularly worrying given that disabled people in Scotland are hugely over-represented in the social rented sector[3].
  1. Furthermore, a 41% cut will have a hugely disproportionate impact on specialist housing providers and providers of supported accommodation such as Margaret Blackwood Housing Association and Horizon Housingresulting in higher rents for disabled people. We would urge the Scottish Government to consider its duty under the Equality Act 2010 to take positive steps to ensure the needs of disabled people are met before introducing this policy.
  2. RSLs are also likely to come under increasing financial pressure in the coming years. Changes to housing benefit alone will reduce RSL income in the following ways:

-The payment of housing allowance directly to tenants as part of Universal Credit is likely to result in increased arrears and homelessness.

-The planned under-occupation penalty and single room allowance changes mean that thousands of social sector tenants will see a reduction in their Housing Benefit[4].

-Rates of non-dependent deductions have already been increasedsignificantly. A household with a non-dependent on the minimum-wage for a 40 hour week will lose £48.45 a week in Housing Benefit[5].

  1. Demand for adaptations is also likely to increase over the coming years. This is due in part to Scotland’s ageing population and the increasing proportion of disabled people. It is also a result of the increasing pressure on the finances of disabled people themselves. The replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments alone will result in a 20% reduction in available income to disabled people in Scotland. This amounts to £25 million a week in Scotland alone[6]. Many disabled people spend a proportion of this allowance to buy aids such as walking frames, grab rails or ramps. Much of this burden will now fall on RSLs and local authorities.
  1. These external factors mean that RSLs’ margins are likely to squeezed even further in future. This is very likely to result in RSLs either raising the threshold of eligibility for adaptations, ever increasing waiting lists or cheaper, poorer quality adaptations. All of these options would be to the extreme detriment of disabled people.
  2. We appreciate that all public bodies are coming under increasing financial pressure and that RLSs cannot be immune from this. However, if the Scottish Government plans to make such dramatic reductions to stage 3 adaptation budgets then it must also give RSLs an incentive to continue performing these adaptations. Currently, while RSLs have a duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 (which can include fitting aids), they have no legal duty to perform stage 3 adaptations.
  3. In the event that RSLs refuse or cannot afford to perform stage 3 adaptations, then the legal duty and financial burden will fall on local authorities. Where need has been assessed and it is classified as priority, the local authority must ensure the adaptation is carried out – regardless of who the landlord is[7]. A decrease in the number of adaptations carried out by RSLs is also likely to result in an increase in the number of disabled people who require community care services from the local authority as they struggle to perform day to day tasks.
  4. We therefore believe that if the Scottish Government is to reduce funding for stage 3 adaptations it must also place a legal duty on RSLs to perform these adaptations. A legal duty of this nature would have the following benefits:

-Increase equity of entitlement across tenures by placing similar duties on local authority and RSL landlords

-Increase transparency for tenants and advisors by clarifying their rightsin relation to stage 3 adaptations

-Increasing accountability by making it possible for tenants to challenge their landlords for failure to perform stage 3 adaptations.

  1. It is also important that the Scottish Social Housing Charter makes adequate reference to local authority’s duty to perform adaptations. The Charter is intended to ensure tenants are aware of what they can expect from their landlord. It also lays down the basis of what will form the Scottish Housing Regulator’s standards.Capability is pleased to see that the current draft of the Charter states that tenants should beable to get the adaptations and equipment they need to help them stay in their home' where this is appropriate.However, we believe the Charter should also maker reference to the fact that adaptations must meet the needs of the disabled person and be performed within a reasonable time.

Question 9: Do you have any comments on use of the adaptations budget to fund adaptations in communal areas, particularly in supported housing?

  1. We believe that the adaptations budget should be available to fund adaptations to communal areas. Our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on adaptations to common parts highlights how vital such adaptations can be to disabled people and their ability to live independently[8]. Supported accommodation budgets will also be coming under increased pressure as the UK Government plans to cap the amount of Housing Benefit that can be claimed by tenants occupying supported accommodation[9]. As such it is particularly important to ensure there is a means for adaptations of this nature to be funded.

Question 10: Do you have any comments on the assessment of need for adaptations, and whether current processes are consistent?

  1. Capability’s advice service has received numerous calls highlighting how difficult it can be to find any information on assessments or eligibility criteria for adaptations. In many cases tenants have even been denied this information once an assessment has been performed and they have been found ineligible. This is clearly unacceptable as it undermines transparency and the individual’s ability to challenge the decisions. We would like to see increased uniformity in relation to assessments and criteria.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this consultation.

For further information please contact

Hanna McCulloch

Senior Policy Advisor

Capability Scotland

0131 347 1025

[1] The Future of Housing For Disabled People; Capability Scotland Conference Report, April 2011

[2] Glasgow and South West Association of Housing Associations; Briefing on Funding for Housing Associations

[3] 28% of disabled people live in the social rented sector compared with 11% of non disabled people. For more info see Capability Scotland; 1 in 4 Poll; Housing Survey

[4] The Impact of Proposed Welfare Reform on Housing Association Tenants; May 2011

[5] Ibid.

[6] Presentation by Richard Gass, Chair of Citizens Rights Scotland, 22nd June 2011

[7] Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 as amended

[8] Capability Scotland Response to the Scottish Government consultation on The Right to Adapt Common Parts in Scotland

[9] Housing Benefit Reform, Supported Housing, Department of Work and Pensions, July 2011