Top-up grants used to help disabled people live independently in their own homes are being suspended by the city council.

The council has had to stop funding discretionary Disabled Facility Grants (DFG) because of a forecasted overspend.

This means it can continue to fund mandatory DFG applications, which it has a statutory duty to do.

The top-up grants are used to help fund extensions and conversions in people’s homes - such as stairlifts and ceiling track hoists - that cost more than the mandatory DFG limit of £30,000.

HEARTBROKEN: Cllr Elaine Willmore said she knows the impact suspending these grants will haveHEARTBROKEN: Cllr Elaine Willmore said she knows the impact suspending these grants will have (Image: Elaine Willmore)

Worcester City Council is also capping the amount it is spending on other discretionary payments, including hospital discharge grants and home repair assistance. 

Cllr Neil Laurenson, speaking at last week’s meeting of the council’s Communities committee, said: “It’s a pretty grim situation.

“What we’re saying is because of the amount we’ve already pledged, which is £60,000 beyond what we would have in the fund, we’re not going to help people as much as we have been helping - and these are some of the most vulnerable people in Worcester.”

The city council’s funding for both discretionary and mandatory DFG comes through the Better Care Fund from Worcestershire County Council. The amount the city council gets is set by the government.

Cllr Alex Mace said capping hospital discharge grants will take away one of the few things the council can do to have a positive impact on waiting times at the hospital - an issue many residents have raised with him.

Cllr Elaine Willmore said: “This item breaks my heart. Outside of my councillor life I’m a physiotherapist and I see the implication that this type of thing has on people’s lives.

“This is often children who have profound needs who are growing to adulthood, who need extra provision, people who have had life-changing events or injuries - stroke, traumatic brain injury, amputations - and I’m so upset that when these people need the support that we as a society are just not able to give it to them.”

Cllr Willmore said councillors “don’t really have a choice” but to support the recommendations.

“So I’ll recommend it with such a heavy heart and just hope that by the time the report comes back in March that we will have a glimmer of hope that things will change and we can support these people in Worcester that little bit better,” she said.

Cllr Jabba Riaz said: “It is heartbreaking that we have to make this decision but the sad reality is this is what is within our control and is the only option we have left with the current financial situation, with no further money coming from county [council] or central government.

“So it’s our job - each and every one of us - to lobby our representatives to get that changed.”