Concerns have been raised over a lack of funding to help elderly and disabled people in Breckland have independence in their own homes.

A backlog of works needed to adapt people’s homes, following the Covid lockdowns of 2020-21, has drained the district council’s budget for future upgrades - and a senior councillor said authorities across Norfolk were in a similar predicament.

The situation was raised by Breckland Council’s Labour opposition leader Terry Jermy, at a meeting of the authority’s overview and scrutiny commission on Thursday, October 20.

He asked about the council’s Disabled Facilities Grant, a government-funded pot of money provided to each council to allow them to fit homes with adaptations like ramps or handrails.

“Residents in my ward that need adaptations made have been told that the entire year’s budget has already been spent for this financial year,” he said.

Eastern Daily Press: Terry Jermy, Labour opposition leader on Breckland CouncilTerry Jermy, Labour opposition leader on Breckland Council (Image: Archant)

Speaking just hours before South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss announced her resignation as prime minister, Mr Jermy added: “The advice to one resident was to write to Liz Truss, which I thought was interesting - probably not a good time to do that right now, I suppose.”

Alison Webb, the council’s cabinet member for health and communities, said: “This issue with running out of funds is an issue right across the county, it’s not just at Breckland.

Eastern Daily Press: Alison Webb, Conservative cabinet member for health and communities at Breckland CouncilAlison Webb, Conservative cabinet member for health and communities at Breckland Council (Image: Gary Donnison Photography 2021)

“During Covid, obviously there were no occupational therapists going into houses to assess what the needs are.

“We got to the stage where we had a lot of applications waiting for the occupational therapists to come along.

“They’ve found that there’s a lot of houses that need adaptions, and there are cases where these adaptions are really important, because they’re in hospital, we understand the requirement of making people’s homes safe, for them to return to.”

She acknowledged that “there is an issue with the money” but said the council was looking at “all options” to progress the necessary works, including hiring a handyman to carry out the simpler upgrades.

Mr Jermy followed up: “I think it is a concern because there are lots of examples now, where the lack of adaptations happening are preventing people from leaving hospital… but also in some cases it's a deal breaker between people going into care or not.

“We want people to stay in their home as long as they possibly can, and some of [the adaptations] are relatively minor, but actually have a significant impact on other staff.”