The housing adaptation system in Wales is ‘complicated, reactive and unfair’ and does not deliver for those who need it, auditors warn.
Housing adaptations, as well as allowing older and disabled people to live independently in their own homes, offer an effective way of making the best use of the existing housing stock.
However, a new report from the Auditor General for Wales warns the current system for delivering housing adaptations needs to change in order to meet the needs of older and disabled people.
It found assessment processes are not streamlined or efficient. This leads to delays which, in turn, can lead to someone having to move into specialist care.
The complex systems used to deliver adaptations make it difficult for people to get the help they need and often stops health professionals from using adaptation services, the report noted.
The auditor also found there was not enough joined up working between agencies and local authorities which is making it harder for those in need to access services.
The adaptations disabled and older people can receive are also often determined by where they live and who they seek help from rather than their need, according to the report.
It also warned public bodies are not improving performance because of limited oversight.
In Wales there are 70 agencies delivering housing adaptation services to over 32,000 people a year. An estimated £60m of public money is spent on these services a year.
‘Demand for housing adaptations is projected to rise. That’s why it’s so important that public bodies improve how they deliver adaptations and address the many weaknesses in the current complicated and inefficient system,’ said auditor general, Huw Vaughan-Thomas.
‘People deserve the very best standard of service to help them live independently.
‘Unfortunately, public bodies have failed to address some long standing weaknesses in current arrangements and disabled and older people are the ones losing out. This needs to change.’
Welcoming the Auditor General for Wales’ report on housing adaptations, Cllr Aaron Shotton, WLGA spokesperson for housing said: 'As the Auditor General’s report highlights, local authorities and their partners deliver housing adaptations for more than 32,000 people a year, enabling them to carry on living as independently as possible in their own homes.
'Customer satisfaction is generally high, but local authorities will examine the report’s recommendations and will look to improve the planning and delivery of adaptations services, wherever possible.'