THE Angus Housing Association (AHA) has reacted angrily to a consultation paper and questionnaire issued by the Scottish Government.
The paper dealt with the future of the budget and funding criteria for adaptations to the houses of elderly and disabled Housing Association tenants.
Bruce Forbes, AHA director, said: “In March 2011, the Scottish Government issued an ill advised Guidance Note which radically changed the funding criteria for house adaptations and threatened the future possibility of our tenants receiving the help they need to live independently in their homes.
“These nonsensical proposals were quickly withdrawn prior to the Scottish Parliament elections because no consultation had taken place. We were also promised that any future consultation would be part of a comprehensive review of funding arrangements across all tenures.
“Unfortunately, this new consultation is asking us to comment on a number of options solely for our tenure sector without knowing what is being proposed for the local authority, owner-occupied and private rented sectors or for those individuals who are supported to live independently with funding from the NHS.
“It is also clear from the questionnaire that all of the options being considered involve individual Housing Associations paying for part of the costs of adaptations. It is fundamentally premature and unfair to ask us to assess how we will achieve this when we don’t know if what is to be proposed for the other tenures is any way equitable or fair.
“There is also a principle involved here.
“All of the initial questions in the consultation are based on the assumption of implications for our rent levels and financial reserves based on us meeting either the first £300,£500 or £1,000 of the cost of any single adaptation.
“My response is simply to ask a question back of the Scottish Government - Why should Housing Association tenants, already some of the poorest members of society, have to pay any extra rent just because, co-incidentally, some of the other tenants of their landlord need physical house adaptations to live independently?
“To summarise the problem with this consultation succinctly, if the Scottish Government wishes to continue pursuing a sensible and cost effective policy of enabling the disabled and older people to live in their own homes instead of hospitals and care homes, they should also give this policy the funding priority needed to put comprehensive arrangements in place to deliver it.
“Instead, they are trying to scrape up the funding by increased charges for the poorest who can least afford it.
“We all know that we are in the middle of a recession, that we have to make budgets go further and that hard choices need to be made. Why not, however, for example, abandon the populist policy of free prescription charges for those who can easily afford them instead of asking the poor, elderly and disabled to pay even more for the continued independence of their poor, elderly and disabled neighbours?”