Rotherham Council lacks a register of adaptations made to houses

SCRUTINY members were surprised to learn that Rotherham Council does not keep a register of where houses have been adapted.

Aids allowing residents to live independently for longer can range from grab rails and wheelchair ramps to six-figure property extensions.

RMBC’s current allocations for such work are £2.9 million for council homes and £2.1 million for other homes, paid for through the Housing Revenue Account and Disabled Facilities Grant respectively.

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But there is no specific register keeping track of what changes have been made and in what properties across the borough.

A report to RMBC’s overview and scrutiny management board last Wednesday (13) acknowledged that having such a register would help meet residents’ needs and “avoid the costly and wasteful removal of adaptations where they are no longer needed”.

Scrutiny chair Cllr Maggi Clark said: “I was surprised to read that there was no register for adapted properties.

“One of the issues that I have come across, and I’m sure other councillors have, is when people move from adapted properties and the property stands empty.

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“We feel we need to know what the adaptations are in the properties, and where they are.”

James Clark, the council’s assistant director for housing, said: “It’s not that we don’t know anything about the adaptations in our properties, we do.

“But it’s not systematic and we don’t have a separate register, or the ability to make direct lets of people who need a specific adaptation with a property that has an adaptation.

“You will see this sometimes when people move into properties that have an adaptation and sadly we have to rip it out, which is not the best use of resources and we want to avoid.

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“Moving to a dedicated register is a significant undertaking and would require quite a big change in the housing adaptations policy, which is why the conclusion is that it would be helpful to have this, but we need to pick up the pros and cons and how we actually do it through a separate review of the housing allocations policy, which is beginning next year.”

Other changes to the adaptations policy will include grants to support faster discharges from hospital or to prevent readmissions. The policy was approved on Monday by cabinet members and comes into effect on April 1.

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