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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 13/11/2001
REPAYMENT OF RENOVATION GRANT



Under the terms of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, the authority has the discretion not to demand repayment of all or part of a Renovation Grant paid within five years prior to any sale in certain circumstances. This report seeks a decision on exercising that discretion and proposes a policy for future similar cases with delegation to officers.

There are financial, human rights and opportunities for all implications which are detailed in the report. There are no crime and disorder implications.
APPENDIX F

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - 13TH NOVEMBER 2001



Title:
REPAYMENT OF RENOVATION GRANT
[Wards Affected: All]


Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The Annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraphs 4 and 5 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-

Information relating to any particular applicant for, or recipient or former recipient of, any service provided by the authority. (Paragraph 4)

Information relating to any particular applicant for, or recipient or former recipient of, any financial assistance provided by the authority. (Paragraph 5)



Summary and Purpose

Under the terms of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, the authority has the discretion not to demand repayment of all or part of a Renovation Grant paid within five years prior to any sale in certain circumstances. This report seeks a decision on exercising that discretion and proposes a policy for future similar cases with delegation to officers.

There are financial, human rights and opportunities for all implications which are detailed in the report. There are no crime and disorder implications.



Introduction

1. When a renovation grant is paid, there is a condition that if the property is sold within five years following completion of the works, the grant has to be repaid in full unless it is an “exempt disposal”. This requirement is detailed in Section 45 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. Sub-sections 4 and 5 of that Section then give local authorities specific discretion not to demand repayment in certain circumstances.

2. One of the circumstances referred to is where the owner of the dwelling “is elderly or infirm and is making the disposal with the intention ... of going to live in a hospital, hospice, sheltered housing, residential care home or similar institution as his only or main residence.”


3. The other circumstances detailed in the Act relate to a move to some other place where care will be provided, for example to live with relatives, or where somebody is moving to live with an elderly or infirm relative in order to care for that person.

Background

4. A resident of Cranleigh received a renovation grant from Waverley Borough Council to carry out home repairs. The owner is shortly to move into a residential care home and, through a solicitor, has asked that Waverley exercise its discretion, under Section 45, not to demand repayment of the grant.

5. The house has been improved and is now fit for human habitation in line with the Council’s housing strategy. The details of the grant and applicant are included within (Exempt) Annexe 1, attached.

Options

6. The Council has three options in a case of this type:-

1. To demand full repayment of the grant; or

2. To make no demand for repayment; or

3. To demand a sum less than the full amount of the grant.

7. If the last option was to be adopted, an appropriate amount might reflect the amount of time still remaining from the 5 year grant condition period. The grant applicant was, through the solicitor, invited to provide written representations in support of a request that the Council waive its right to demand repayment.

8. In response to this invitation the solicitor explained that it was impossible for the grant applicant to return home due to the individual’s frailty. He then stated his client would be moving into residential care at Knowle House and funding the cost of residence at Knowle House from the sale proceeds of the property. Therefore, it was stated, it was important for continued security that the sale proceeds were maximised.

9. Surrey County Council’s Social Services officers have indicated that, since Knowle House is relatively expensive and the family is arranging the placement, they would not be prepared to support the placement financially, even when the applicant’s own resources were exhausted. Members may wish to note that the grant applicant qualified for grant aid due to a reliance on Income Support.

10. This report recommends that the grant be recovered in full. This recommendation is based on the fact that house prices are high in the area, that the house value will have appreciated since the renovation grant was paid and that the amount to be repaid is a small proportion of the sale price of the house. It is also recommended that similar cases may be determined on the same basis by officers.

Proposed Policy for Future Cases

11. At present Waverley does not have an established policy for this type of situation and it is considered appropriate to establish a policy for the future guidance of officers and for information to grant applicants.

12. It is, therefore, recommended that the Council’s future policy be to demand the full repayment on all renovation grants where the dwelling is sold within the 5 year grant condition period, in accordance with Section 45 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. If members agree to this policy, individual reports would not be presented to the Committee for approval in future. However, since the Council would not wish to fetter its discretion, it is recommended that officers refer individual cases to the Executive Committee where some other course of action is felt to be more appropriate, for example, where recovery of the grant would cause hardship.

Human Rights Implications

13. Under Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Human Rights Act 1998, a person is entitled to “peaceful enjoyment of his possessions”. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the provisions provided for by law.

14. In this case, it is in the public interest to recover the grant as this will enable grant aid to be given to another person. The demand would be made in accordance with the provisions of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.

Resource implications

15. The Council is entitled to demand repayment of up to the full amount of grant which would be returned to the capital programme and used to fund more home improvements. Not recovering the grant will remove this opportunity.

"Opportunities for All" implications

16. If the Council does not exercise its discretion in this case, the applicant will have fewer resources for meeting the costs of residential accommodation.

Recommendation

It is therefore recommended that:-

1. the Council be recommended to affirm a policy demanding the full repayment of renovation grants where the dwelling is sold within the 5 year grant condition period, in accordance with Section 45 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, such policy, in future, to be implemented by officers using delegated authority and that, where officers consider repayment in full to be inappropriate, having considered the merits of any such case, the matter be referred to the Executive Committee for decision; and

2. the Executive Committee be recommended to demand repayment of the renovation grant paid to this applicant in this particular case.



Background Papers (DoEL)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mr Robert Wood Telephone: 01483 523445
Email: rmwood@waverley.gov.uk