Poor monitoring of contractors by local authorities during adaptations works in progress were a frequent cause of complaint.

Local authorities are encouraged to support the contractor with regular monitoring, but presented in such a way that it is not a punitive “inspection” regime, but as a means of helping the contractor get the installation right first time for the vulnerable person.

The cases researched were identified via complaints concerning the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), that were referred to the Local Government Ombudsperson (LGO), in which contractor competence and works defects had been cited as a contributing factor in the complaint.

Poor communication and record keeping on behalf of the local authority was a frequently quoted issue on LGO judgements: “The Council says it had progress meetings with the Housing Association and was given assurances, but it has not provided any notes of these meetings or dates of when they took place. This lack of records is fault. Without this evidence I cannot be sure the Council appropriately monitored progress of the DFG.”

Foundations commissioned this report to research underlying issues and provide an insight into the prevalence and nature of works defects and contractor competency issues found in Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) funded adaptations.

Other key recommendations include:
• Local authorities are encouraged to keep their contractors engaged by providing them with skills development support.
• Explore registering contractors with TrustMark, the only safe-trader scheme with government endorsed standards.
• Utilise better data systems for routine monitoring and tracking of works progress.
• Explore Customer Journey Mapping techniques which explores the customer experience from the service-user perspective.

Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, the national body for Home Improvement Agencies and DFG, said: “Contractors are an essential part of the DFG process as without them there would be no adaptations. They need to be nurtured to deliver great customer service and excellent workmanship.”

Copies of Contractor Competence in the Delivery of Disabled Adaptations can be downloaded here