Aims of the strategy, policy, project or service

Private Sector Assistance Policies from the legacy councils in Dorset novated to Dorset Council in April 2019. The proposed policy replaces those and ensures that there is no variance in the level of assistance offered to residents.

This policy sets out the discretionary and mandatory financial assistance Dorset Council offers to eligible residents in Dorset to improve or adapt their property. The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 enables councils (where they publish a policy) to provide a range of housing assistance. The types of assistance include adapting properties for disabled people, bringing empty property back into use, improving energy efficiency and bringing homes up to the Decent Homes Standard.

Context 

In April 2020 existing Housing Assistance policies novated to Dorset Council. These policies remain in force until 31st March 2021, or until this policy supersedes them.

The policy covers a range of help for differing outcomes:

Adaptations to help people remain independent at home:

  • Disabled Facilities Grant
  • Disabled Facilities Loan
  • Handy Person

Decent homes:

  • Home Loan

Empty properties:

  • Empty Property Loan

Park homes:

  • Park Home Loan

Healthy homes:

Heat Melcombe Regis:

Energy efficiency:

  • ECO and ECO Flex grants
  • Energy Efficiency Loans:

Dorset Council works in partnership with Wessex Resolutions Community Interest Company (CIC) and other councils in the South West to provide a range of loan products.   

Intelligence and Communication

Data, information, evidence and research used and how has it influenced the decision-making process

Information about the housing stock in Dorset is primarily from historical stock condition surveys carried out in the former district and borough council areas of Dorset, EPC data sets, national statistics, local knowledge and local statistics.

Decent Homes 

It is estimated that in areas of Dorset up to 36% of homes do not meet the Decent Homes Standard. That is where there is either a category 1 hazard, it is in disrepair, levels of thermal conform are poor and /or the property is lacking in modern facilities. Information is also available on those properties that have lodged an EPC certificate as part of a residential letting process or as part of a improvement to a property.

Empty Properties

It is estimates that as many as 3.1% of the housing stock may be empty at any one time. This is obviously a wasted housing resource. Some of these properties may come back onto the market or be used within 6 months however currently Housing Standards has investigated the circumstances of 96 such properties since the new council was formed in April 2019.  Financial assistance is an important tool to help bring these properties back into use. 

The need for assistance is informed by the condition of local housing stock, the need for reducing non decent homes, removing hazards, improving energy efficiency and making homes more sustainable.

Data we already have about those the proposal will have an impact on

The assistance aims to improve the housing stock in Dorset which directly impacts on the health and wellbeing of residents. Census data (2011) shows that the population of Dorset is 95.6% white British very much higher than the national average. The small percentage of ethnic minorities (4.4%) in Dorset means that it is particularly important to recognise that minority groups may find it difficult to access services, be more isolated and potentially have less support than in other areas. The link between some minority ethnic groups and deprivation may mean that some of these groups are more likely to live in cold homes leading to excess winter deaths.

Disability and people on benefits

Surveys carried out during stock condition surveys indicate that up to 25% of all households in areas of Dorset are in receipt of some kind of benefit and 21% of all households are estimated to have one or more person with an illness or disability. These people are more likely to be living in poorly insulated and lesser quality property. Targeting resources at people who have a lower income targets those resources at those in most need.

tenure table
Total number of residential properties in Dorset 182,677
% owner occupied

72.4%

% public rented

12.3%

% private rented

13.7%

Other

1.7%

Engagement or consultation has taken place as part of this EqIA

The policy builds on the work of legacy district and borough councils in Dorset to continue to improve the domestic housing stock.

Continued engagement occurs with both internal partners and stakeholders supporting some of this assistance in this policy and external delivery partners. 

Internal Stakeholders:

  • Portfolio Holder and other Councillors
  • Children’s Services
  • Adult Social Care
  • Growth and Economic Regeneration

External Stakeholders:

  • Aran Energy Services – Heat Melcome Regis
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy – Healthy Homes Dorset
  • Dorset Accessible Homes service provided by Millbrook Health Care
  • Wessex Resolutions CIC

Feedback

Continued contact, liaison and discussion with both internal and external partners occurring on an ongoing basis ensuring feedback and support to the development of the services.

Assessment

Impacts of the strategy

impacts table
Impacts on who or what  Effect   Details
Age  Positive People of all ages benefit from improvements to their domestic property. Some assistance maybe targeted directly or indirectly at certain age groups for example, disabled facilities grants are taken up by older persons due to poor mobility in old age.
Disability  Positive

Assistance in this policy improves the lives of people in all disability groups. It is targeted at those on lower income via a nationally prescribed and mandatory test of financial resources, although help and advice on adapting homes for those not eligible is provided.

Disabled Facilities Grants and loans and handy-van services allow disabled people to remain safely in their homes, avoiding significant care costs and hospital treatments improving life outcomes and well-being. Access to assistance is through an assessment by an occupational therapist of trained trusted assessor.

Gender reassignment and  gender identity / pregnancy and maternity / race and ethnicity / religion or belief / sexual orientation / sex / marriage or civil partnership  Neutral

There is no barrier or conditions that affect the rights of people in these protected characteristics

 

Carers Positive Disabled Facilities Grants allow disabled people to remain safely in their homes. This assistance directly improves the care setting and significantly supports carers who are providing care and support to disabled people.
Rural isolation  Positive  Improving access to property for disabled people improves their ability to live and remain active within their local communities including rural settings.
Single parent families  Positive  The range of private sector housing assistance in this policy improves the conditions, access and environmental performance of homes. The assistance is available to all domestic property types. Improving housing conditions is known to improve mental wellbeing and contributes to the cohesion of families including single parent families.
Poverty (social & economic deprivation)   Positive The range of private sector housing assistance in this policy improves the conditions, access and environmental performance of homes. Reducing the cost of heating and improving health through better housing conditions directly impact on reducing fuel poverty and improving health outcomes. Assistance is generally targeted at those on lower income.

Military families/veterans Positive Discretionary powers are included within the policy to extend eligibility so that military personnel and their families can benefit from the assistance offered by the Council.

Key to impacts

impact description table
Type of impact Explanation of impact
Positive Impact 
  • Positive impact on a large proportion of protected characteristic groups
  • Significant positive impact on a small proportion of protect characteristics group
Negative Impact 
  • Disproportionate impact on a large proportion of protected characteristic groups
  • Significant disproportionate impact on a small proportion of protected characteristic groups.
Neutral Impact 
  • No change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups
Unclear 
  • Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision.

Action Plan

action plan table
Issue Action to be taken Person(s) responsible Date to be completed by
1

Communication Plan

Communication plan required to publicise the assistance available to residents of Dorset and ensure that all equality groups are addressed within the plan.

To include a large print version available at launch

Service Manager Housing Standards

December 2020

2

Review of policy

Formal policy reviewed after 3 years, consideration of the assistance provided and its effectiveness. The policy may be reviewed annually to include new grant or finance available.

Service Manager Housing Standards

November 2023

Who has agreed this EqIA?

Agreement table
Role

Name

Date

Officer completing this EqIA

Richard Conway Service Manager Housing Standards

12 June 2020

Equality Lead

Susan Ward-Rice

22 September 2020

Equality & Diversity Action Group Chair

Rebecca Forrester

22 September 2020

 

Diversity and Inclusion Officer - Dorset Council

Name: Susan Ward-Rice
Email: susan.ward-rice@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224368
Full contact details

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