Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) is boosting the help available to disabled people and their families, homeowners and landlords across the district.
The council has revised its housing assistance policy to – among other things – make it easier for people to get the support they need to live independently in their own homes.
HBC already offers discretionary support with a range of services, including disabled facilities grants (DFGs) of up to £30,000.
These allow people to apply for assistance to adapt their homes, but grants are means-tested and the contribution depends on the person’s own financial circumstances.
However, under the new assistance policy, the first £5,000 of all DFG applications will now be paid by the council from its own funds.
A second change is the introduction of a wider range of support.
Grant funding will now be available for assistance relating to health and wellbeing activity, measures to prevent slips, trips and falls in the home and things like energy advice.
A third change is the launch of loans for empty homes.
The council has already set aside a budget of £800,000, part of which will be available for homeowners or landlords to borrow the money needed to bring property back into use.
A loan – of up to £15,000 – will be available to cover the cost of repairs or improvements and will be interest-free.
It will be offered for a fixed five-year period and will be secured against the property.
The empty homes loan scheme is being operated in partnership with Sheffield City Council.
Madeleine Bell, head of housing at Harrogate Borough Council, said:
We regularly review the support we offer to people across the district.
We’ve made these changes because we felt we could do more to increase the number of people we help and improve housing conditions at the same time.
It also means we are able to go further than what we have a statutory duty to provide.
We have financial support available now and I urge homeowners and landlords to get in touch to find out more about how we can assist.