West Norfolk Council could cut emergency repair cash

Disabled, elderly or vulnerable home-owners in West Norfolk who need urgent cash for emergency repairs may no longer be able to get an interest-free loan from the borough council.

The authority is considering chang-ing its policy so it points people in the direction of private finance instead.

At the moment West Norfolk council can offer loans in serious cases where money cannot be accessed any other way for emergency help.

It only loans cash to fund repairs which present a serious hazard to the health of the resident. No interest has been charged because of administrative rules around the Financial Services Authority.

But the council's cabinet members are being asked to approve changes which would save council cash.

The proposed scheme would see those in most need pointed to loans or equity release schemes offered through the Home Improvement Trust, which would charge interest.

It operates a Houseproud scheme which can make finance available to disabled, elderly or vulnerable home owners who need to make urgent repairs or alterations to their property in order to remain at home.

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The scheme offers safeguards as there is a no-repossession guarantee for residents. It is also likely to operate in the neighbouring Fenland and Breckland areas.

The proposals would: 'Enable the council to help vulnerable households with identified housing repairs to access private finance including equity release,' says a report to go before cabinet on Tuesday.

'The service will be improved for the majority of vulnerable people who at present will not receive any financial assistance under the existing policy. The Houseproud scheme offers tangible benefits to older and disabled households who need affordable financing for housing repairs and improvements,' the report adds.

In very rare cases the council may still provide loans to those not eligible for other schemes.