Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Victory on Disabled Adaptation Charges

As previously report on this blog, the Council was already backtracking on plans to charge disabled tenants with special adaptations several hundreds of pounds a year for basic servicing and inspection, even where they were installed years ago and on the basis that these charges wouldn't be payable.

But following an energetic campaign from one particular Coleridge resident and disability action groups, I was pleased to support measures agreed at last night's housing management board that see a complete U turn for tenants with existing adaptations who will not now face these charges. A report will be taken back to the next housing management board to consider new disabled adaptations, and if servicing costs on these should in future be recharged or continue as now to be paid for from the overall housing revenue account.

Whilst I look forward to that report, the key issue to me is why it is so expensive to perform these checks. It is only with more transparency over the procurements of these services, that we can know if the services could be provided cheaper, or if, for example, we could carry out more checks at the same time to meet the same health and safety objectives at lower cost. The Council is spending a fortune on health and safety related inspections and remedial actions - gas safety, fire safety (a major scheme affecting Davy Rd and Fanshawe Road flats was also agreed last night to improve fire safety) and other safety checks and actions relating to new requirements under the 'decent homes' guidance. Ultimately these all have to be paid for, and as a Councillor I want to be sure that we aren't just adopting an open cheque book approach to any theoretical health and safety risk, but really question if the response to possible health and safety concerns is proportionate to the risks.

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