Issue - decisions

Ashford's Approach to Health and Wellbeing

21/06/2019 - Ashford's Approach to Health and Wellbeing

The Portfolio Holder introduced the report which highlighted some of Ashford’s activity

during 2018/19 to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents. It also highlighted

changes made in approach and the new priorities for delivery during 2019/20 and

onwards. The report also sought to amend Ashford’s constitution in order to enable

effective partnership working at the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Partnership. She

advised that the health and wellbeing of residents was a key priority of this

Administration and the development of the Council’s new Corporate Plan and to achieve

their goals, working with partners would be crucial. She wanted to thank those who had

worked in this area over the last year from the Council and, in particular, from partner

organisations both locally and sub-regionally. The new Ashford Health and Wellbeing

Partnership would focus on three key priority areas: - working together to ensure there

was a fit for purpose health infrastructure in Ashford; continuing to be the vanguard of

innovation - building on Ashford’s fantastic One You model; and tackling health

inequalities in the Borough.


The Portfolio Holder said it was worth drawing particular attention to One You –

Ashford’s flagship response to health and wellbeing issues in the Borough. This

continued to go from strength to strength, so much so that it had had to move premises

much earlier than originally thought and she was delighted to announce that the new

One You shop would be opening at the beginning of July. This would be a fantastic new

community facility – free to access and for all to take advantage of. It would include an

increased number of consultation rooms, kitchen facilities, practical learning, and

exercise space and a family area, as well as a changing places toilet. This was all made

possible by the financial investment of the last Administration and she encouraged

everybody to visit and make use of the wide range of services delivered at the shop.


In accordance with Procedure Rule 9.3 Mr Crompton, a local resident, had requested to

speak on this item. He advised that he wanted to discuss the wellbeing of the most

vulnerable sector of society – disabled and vulnerable people. Officers and Members

would be aware that he had previously raised the issue of disabled adaptations to

housing and Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs). He referred to examples at other Local

Authorities where this had not been dealt with properly and that Council had been forced

to pay appellants compensation for discrimination and disadvantage suffered. This

Council also had its own alternative process in place for dealing with Council tenants,

and this placed it at risk of also being at odds with the statutory entitlement through

Disabled Facilities Grants. He considered such problems would not exist if the Council

treated people equally. He referred to an issue he had previously raised with the Council

and not received a response to in that people had statutory entitlements. In 1990

mandatory grants were introduced by the Government, and DFG was the last one to

remain mandatory. All an individual had to do was make a valid application and it

became a statutory requirement, it was not a case of the Council having to cut other

budgets as he had previously been advised. If people did not meet their statutory

obligation of paying their Council Tax, the Council would prosecute and take them to

court, so he considered disabled people should not treat this Council any differently if

their applications were not honoured. In his view this was all about the Council treating

people fairly and honouring their pledges to Council tenants, without forcing them to

move because they could not have their homes adapted. Case law was very clear that

 “Local Housing Authorities were not entitled to take resources in to account in deciding

whether or not approve a DFG for Section 23 purposes”. He also pointed to the

Council’s policy of removing adaptions that they deemed no longer necessary and

wondered where that left disabled residents?


The Leader said that when he took his position six years ago he had made it clear to the

Housing department that adaptations to houses for disabled people was a high priority

for him and he was less interested in renewing kitchens at regular intervals and would

rather concentrate on the needs of disabled people in those homes. He had charged the

Head of Housing to remedy that and reduce that waiting list, including both Council

tenants and the general public. They had even funded an additional Occupational

Therapist to assist KCC in removing a bottleneck and getting that backlog down.


The Head of Housing confirmed the Leader’s comments and clarified that Housing

Services had done a lot of work in this area. At that time, the waiting list was standing at

around a 2/3 year wait for DFGs and a similar level or longer in certain cases for

disabled adaptations to Council properties. They had also been asked to “level the

playing field” regardless of whether they were from Council tenants or private

individuals. Both the Council and the HRA invested more money into addressing those

needs and she was pleased to say that they had reduced the position with most people

now waiting for a period of 6/9 months from start to finish of the process and there was

currently no-one on the DFG waiting list. It was also worth pointing out that the Council

would not remove an adaptation that was still required by a disabled person. It may have

to be replaced by an alternative if its useful life had ceased, but it would not be removed.

She hoped this therefore demonstrated that the Council had significantly improved the

situation and whilst there were financial rules around the funding for such adaptations

through different channels, in her view the most important thing was that a Housing

Authority actually delivered, and that is what this Authority had been doing. Both the

Head of Housing and the new Portfolio Holder for Housing offered to meet Mr Crompton

outside of the meeting to discuss this particular matter further if he so wished.

The Head of Community Safety and Wellbeing said that on the substance of the report,

it was important to note that there was a massive work stream that the Council and

partners would be undertaking on a wide range of health and wellbeing issues and she

encouraged all Members to get involved and engaged in this agenda. She wanted to

thank partners for the amazing amount of work they undertook to support this



The Leader said he wanted to re-iterate that one of his highest priorities was to disabled

and vulnerable people and to be a caring Authority. This Council had introduced a

number of measures such as: - assisted waste collections; the Syrian refugee

programme where Ashford had taken the most refugees in the country per head of

population; dementia and autism friendly film screenings at the new cinema; and

working closely with the Ashford Access Group including now inviting them to be a

member of the Ashford Strategic Delivery Board.






(i) the achievements made by the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Board

in 2018/19 be noted.


(ii) the work undertaken by partners in 2018/19 to improve Ashford’s

response to local, sub-regional and regional health and wellbeing

issues be noted and that this hadresulted in the establishment of the

Ashford Health and Wellbeing Partnership (AHWP) and the East Kent

Health Improvement Partnership (EKHIP).


(iii) authority be delegated to the Head of Community Safety and

Wellbeing to act as the Council’s representative on the AHWP and the

EKHIP, subject to consultation with the Portfolio Holder for

Community Safety and Wellbeing as required. Decisions are likely to

be around the priorities of the Groups, as well as activities to deliver



(iv) the action plans to deliver the priorities of the AHWP, and the fact

that there may be future resource implications in delivery, be noted.