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Long wait for vital home improvements

PUBLISHED: 12:54 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 12:43 20 May 2010

Hundreds of elderly and disabled people throughout Norfolk are being forced to wait months or even years for vital safety alterations to their houses because of a grant system labelled "deeply unfair" by a Norfolk MP.

Hundreds of elderly and disabled people throughout Norfolk are being forced to wait months or even years for vital safety alterations to their houses because of a grant system labelled “deeply unfair” by a Norfolk MP.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has launched a campaign to change government policy which governs disabled facilities grants.

People needing relatively simple alterations such as level access showers, stair lifts and widened doors are being forced to wait while the inefficient system grinds slowly through its various stages of application, assessment, funding and delivery, said Mr Lamb.

Eileen Leach, an 85-year-old living in North Walsham who needs a level access shower, is one of those facing the repercussions of the way the means tested grant works.

“I have been waiting a year already and it currently looks like I will have to wait another year,” said Mrs Leach.

“I have lived in this house for 30 years and I don't want to move.

“All the authorities have agreed I need the shower, but the system means I have to carry on waiting.”

Mr Lamb said a wider imperative from government to allow people to remain in their own homes as long as possible and to focus on preventative care was being ignored.

Baroness Andrews, parliamentary under secretary of state at the department for communities and local government, said in a letter to Mr Lamb that a wide-ranging review was driving a package of changes to improve the programme.

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