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Home Improvement Agency

Running a HIA

Home Improvement Agency (HIA) services originated over 30 years ago with a vision to provide responsive, client-centred solutions to low income, older owner-occupiers’ home repair, maintenance and adaptation problems. The early pioneers, independent ‘Care and Repair’ or ‘Staying Put’ services were small scale and largely funded by the charitable sector.

While many of the original agencies still operate, most agencies are now managed by housing associations, local authorities or private companies with funding from local authorities and health services.

The HIA sector is almost as well defined by its differences as by its similarities, but all HIAs share two key facets:

  1. Client-centred support provided in a person’s own home
  2. Expertise in making changes to the physical fabric of the home.

Used together, these key strengths provide HIAs with a unique selling point as a provider of services to vulnerable people. These strengths are well suited to drive forward the development of new business, as attributes that differentiate and set apart the sector from other providers in an increasingly segmented and competitive market of support services.

  • One of Foundations' main roles is to support local authorities and other public bodies to commission Home Improvement Agency Services. This section provides an overview of the commissioning cycle for HIAs along with an analysis of the sector in England.

    We also feature Alliance Contracting as a new way to commission joined-up services locally.

    We are able to support both commissioners and providers during procurement exercises by deploying different development managers and implementing a ‘Chinese wall’.

  • The Collaborative HIA (opens a new window), report gives an updated vision for the sector, and is aimed primarily at providers, but will also inform commissioners and policymakers in local government, health and wellbeing boards, health trusts and clinical commissioning groups.

    The Collaborative home improvement agancy image showing cogs of different colours

    Home improvement agencies started as housing-specific services, but now encompass wider support elements and are pivotal to general health and wellbeing - so many other things are possible if a person’s home works well for them. Too often the home can become the enemy if it does not offer sufficient comfort, convenience and security. HIAs are now effectively funded as a ’health related service’ and should behave accordingly – they cannot operate in isolation providing a one-off ‘bricks and mortar only’ solution which fails to join up effectively with other complementary services.

    The future for HIAs is one of greater collaboration and integration with related services, all concerned with promoting health, wellbeing and independence in the home.

    What is the collaborative home improvement agency?

    • It can respond to the varied agendas of different groups of commissioners; HIAs may be called on to augment DFG delivery, even if previously not involved, as well as delivering on the new Care Act duties of ensuring wellbeing, giving care-related advice and information, and prevention.
    • It can play a much more comprehensive role in achieving successful and sustainable transitions between acute care settings and the home; for health trusts and clinical commissioning groups, HIAs already provide ‘home-readying’ services to ease hospital discharges, prevent re-admission, and provide the means to better self-manage health conditions.
    • It argues for a scaling up of HIA activity to address the increase in numbers of older people, including self-funders, who need assistance; HIAs can help local authorities to shape and improve the market of products and services aimed at maintaining independence in the home.

    Our report The Collaborative HIA shows that many HIAs are already collaborating successfully, and encourages HIA service providers to examine what they do well but could do better in partnership, with whom they can collaborate successfully, how they can learn from examples provided, and successfully position themselves as the ‘go-to’ services for healthy ageing in place.

    Download the report (opens a new window)

    The Future HIA

    Our previous strategy papers from 2008 were part of "The Future HIA" (opens a new window) project and provide a more detailed analysis of each element of HIA services.

    The Future HIA - 2008 & 2009 guides

    The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (formerly DCLG) commissioned a project from Foundations to set out what clients and commissioners can expect of home improvement agency services in the future, and indicate how home improvement agencies should respond to the changing environment. Separate reports focus on:

    • funding for repairs and adaptations ('Lending some comfort')
    • advice, information, signposting and advocacy ('Support for choice')
    • connecting with health and care
    • handyperson services, and
    • major adaptations ('Adapting for a lifetime')

    Each report provides examples of good practice from within and beyond the sector and considers how the sector can achieve real growth and development.

    Report Overview

    The report overview (opens a new window), published by DCLG in September 2008, summarises the main findings of the Future HIA project.

    Futrue HIA Booklets

  • The Communities and Local Government Committee on Housing for older people concluded in 2018 (opens a new window) that “most older people do not plan to move and wish to stay in their current home as long as possible. HIAs and handyperson services, undertaking small repairs, maintenance and adaptations, have a significant role to play in ensuring that the homes of those who ‘stay put’ are comfortable, healthy and safe.”

    They recommended that:

    The coverage of Home Improvement Agencies (HIA) should be expanded so there is access to at least one HIA with a handyperson service in each local authority area.

    Foundations is the UK Government appointed national body for Home Improvement Agencies in England, so it’s part of our job to formally accredit new agencies. It’s completely free of charge and we can also support you to develop your service ready for accreditation.

    To become “accredited” you will need to show that you provide:

    • a holistic assessment of a person in their own home – including housing, wellbeing and financial issues; and
    • support to apply for grants and other funding; and
    • signposting/referral to other services; and
    • independent technical advice and support to carry out building works, including repairs, improvements and adaptations.

    We will also check that you are


    • financially robust (passported for organisations holding local public sector contracts);
    • of local strategic relevance (holds local public sector contracts or has an advisory board of local stakeholders); and
    • if delivering works directly (not using contractors), able to fully mitigate any conflicts of interest.

    Each HIA is different, so you may also provide other services like:


    • a handyperson service delivering:
    • minor adaptations
    • home safety checks
    • small repairs / odd jobs
    • welfare benefit checks
    • cold homes assessment
    • housing options advice
    • support to move home

    Being accredited as a HIA shows that you are committed to delivering person-centred services that deliver real outcomes – rather than just providing repairs and adaptations for those fortunate enough to qualify for a grant.


    All accredited agencies are listed on www.findmyhia.org.uk (opens a new window), which is visited by thousands of people every year.

    To find out more about accreditation, complete our enquiry form (form below) or email us. (info@foundations.uk.com)


  • The quality mark logo in the shape of the letter Q coloured pink

    The quality mark was originally designed as a passporting assessment for the Supporting People QAF, and has always been informed by those working in the sector. The latest version of the quality mark, being rolled out from June 2019, includes new objectives around DFG transformation (if applicable), consumer rights, and alternative dispute resolution. The documentation also now includes interactive links to example documents and on-line training resources, to ensure you get the most out of the assessment process.

    To take account of the increased emphasis on information and advice provision in the Care Act, HIA Quality Mark now acts as a feeder qualification for onward progression to obtain the Advice Quality Standard (AQS)

    The QM covers ten key objectives of a Home Improvement Agency’s work

    Objective 1: Minimum services from an HIA

    The service should be holistic and offer a choice to clients

    Objective 2: Assessment and support planning Clients’ needs (and any associated risks) are assessed to an appropriate degree.

    Assessments are performed by skilled staff and involve other professionals and/or carers as appropriate

    Objective 3: Duty of care to clients and staff

    The security, health and safety of all individual clients, staff and the wider community are protected.

    Objective 4: Fair access, diversity and inclusion

    The service is accessible to all vulnerable persons needing the services on offer from the HIA

    Objective 5: Privacy and confidentiality

    The client's privacy is respected and protected by the HIA

    Objective 6: Listening to your Customers

    The customer relationship is clear and information flows both ways.

    Objective 7: Forward Planning and Finance

    The service is well managed and has robust procedures in place

    Objective 8: Staff are well trained, managed and involved in service planning

    Objective 9: Case / File Management Policy Records are generated and stored securely

    Objective 10: Governance and High-Level Strategy

    Records are generated and stored securely

    In order for agencies to demonstrate that they are achieving the 10 objectives they must provide evidence that they are undertaking specific activities and the impact of those activities.

    Home Improvement Agencies who achieve the Quality Mark can enjoy many benefits from enhanced credibility and access to funding and other opportunities, to improved service delivery and stronger partnerships. All agencies who achieve the Quality Mark automatically receive a premium listing on FindmyHIA (Opens in a new window) and a prominent position in search results.

    Home Improvement Agencies of any configuration – independent or in-house, large or small, rural or urban – can achieve accreditation; groups of agencies working in partnership can even go through the process together. Accreditation lasts for two years.

    Testimonial

    An image of the quality mark logo with a testimonial caption overlayed at the top

    Contact

    For more information about becoming an HIA or receiving a Quality Mark award, please contact Roy McNally (roym@foundations.uk.com).

    What is the AQS?

    The Advice Quality Standard (AQS) is an independently audited quality standard which is awarded to services delivering social welfare legal advice. The AQS is managed by the Advice Services Alliance who are fiercely proud of the role it plays in driving the development of access to social justice in this country. It is a standard which is owned and driven by the sector itself and yet is independent of any of the national advice networks or any individual funders or regulators.

    An image of two advice quality standard booklets

    The Advice Quality Standard is held by 700 separate local advice services across England and Wales and who provide advice on social welfare legal problems to a range of client groups; from the general public on a national helpline to specific and often disadvantaged communities within a locality.

    What benefits do we get from holding the AQS?

    Good, well run HIAs will provide good quality service to their clients regardless of their chose quality assurance process. So what are the added benefits of holding the AQS?

    The Advice Quality Standard creates the right conditions for growing committed and supported practitioners, which is crucial to good advice. It provides assurance that advice is well delivered for advisers, managers, trustees, service users and funders as well as providing the common bond between different types of advice services serving different client groups. Whilst it is possible for organisations who do not hold a quality standard to provide good advice, the Advice Quality Standard helps ensure organisations are well managed, which helps to ensure development, continual improvement and (most important in the current climate) sustainability.

    There are many reasons organisations may want to apply for a quality standard, but we feel there are particular benefits to be gained from holding the AQS:

    • Assurance of quality

      external validation that your service is working according to the best practice for your clients

    • Quality values

      Demonstrates that the quality of service delivered to clients is at the heart of our work and not an additional add-on

      When funding is tight, as it is now, this is more important than ever

    • Better client outcomes

      Evidence from other fields has shown that regardless of other factors, the outcomes for clients using a quality marked service are greater than the outcomes from those without

    • Better risk assessment

      The discipline of the AQS ensures that services are keeping on top of the main areas of risk

      Knowing about and anticipating risk is a key factor in service sustainability

    • Access to funding

      Many funders like to see quality standards in place, some funders insist on it.

      The Advice Quality Standard is accredited by the Money Advice Service. Only services holding an accredited standard can apply for funding from the Money Advice Service

    • Accountability

      Board of Trustees and senior management teams can use the report from the AQS to evidence good practice and to build a better understanding of the service

      Corrective actions and areas for improvement can help Trustees develop long term strategies and business plans

    • Benchmarking

      As one of 700 organisations which hold the AQS you have access to a range of organisations undertaking similar or comparable work to you

    • Opportunities for referrals

      AQS holders refer to other AQS as first choice as it is transparent on the quality of service

      Many partnerships have been built on the basis that the AQS is a common language across different services

    • Community of AQS practitioners

      Through this website and through the other opportunities we provide, services have access to almost 700 other organisations in the same area of work

    The Advice Quality Standard (AQS) is the national quality standard for providers of information and advice services. This rigorous assessment will show how your service, be it a local authority based team, or a HIA, can provide safe and robust advice services in line with the Care Act.

    For more information about the Advice Quality Standard, please contact Roy McNally.

    TrustMark is the ONLY safe-trader scheme with government-endorsed standards. TrustMark operates at the forefront of consumer protection, and a number of HIAs have taken advantage of this opportunity to become Trustmark registered, thereby gaining exposure on the TrustMark website, driving revenue from able-to-pay customers.

    However, TrustMark is evolving, with greater links to Trading Standards and has also become the administrator of GasSafe registrations and ECO installers. This expansion of interest has now presented even more opportunity for HIAs to get involved with the TrustMark scheme, and offer Trustmark registration to its contractors, or to utilise TrustMark as the method by which your contractors are vetted.

    So, how can a HIA or Local Authority use TrustMark?

    There are a number of ways in which your HIA or Local Authority can utilise TrustMark. The scheme can provide a simple mechanism of registering your handyperson service on the scheme through a Framework Provider, or a HIA could become a TrustMark scheme operator themselves, where they can accredit internal staff and external contractors on the scheme. There’s even the opportunity for a HIA to provide TrustMark registration services over a wide area!

    What’s your preferred route?

    Scenario 1:

    We are a HIA or Local Authority operating a handyperson service. We’d like our handypersons to be registered with TrustMark, as a means of driving in able-to-pay business, and giving our customers added quality assurance?

    • Option 1:

    Register your handyperson service with Diversity Management, who act as Foundations TrustMark Framework Provider for the handyperson trade sector.

    Scenario 2:

    We are a HIA or Local Authority and we’d like to register our contractors undertaking major disabled adaptations on the Trustmark scheme, and use TrustMark as our criteria for our approved contractor list?

    • Option 1:

    Register your contractors with Diversity Management, who act as Foundations TrustMark Framework Provider for the Disabled Adaptations trade sector.

    • Option 2:

    Register your contractors with a regional TrustMark Framework Provider in your area (also see option 3 below)

    • Option 3:

    Become a TrustMark Framework Provider yourself!

    There now exists the opportunity for HIAs or indeed Local Authorities to become TrustMark Framework Providers themselves, where the HIA/LA itself registers their contractors (known in TrustMark parlance as Registered Businesses). This is a fantastic opportunity which not only allows the HIA/LA to derive a revenue stream from fees to register a contractor onto their list, but also means their catchment area for contractor registration is not just confined to your own local authority area. For example, there’s no reason why a single HIA/LA operating in a district authority couldn’t offer TrustMark registration for contractors operating over the whole of their county. As such the HIA/LA could provide approved contractor services for neighbouring HIAs or other local authorities.


    TrustMark offers many advantages, for HIAs/LAs, contractors and customers:

    • The HIA acting as a TrustMark Framework Provider can recruit Registered Businesses (contractors) onto their list from a wide catchment area.

    • This means that contractors operating over a wide area, all work to common, and accepted TrustMark Standards.

    • This helps remove disparity of contractor quality over a wide area, and allows contractors to work across local authority boundaries, mitigating any perceptions of a “postcode lottery”.

    • TrustMark membership gives contractors credibility that they work at the forefront of consumer protection, and opens up further commercial opportunities via a listing on the TrustMark web site

    • As a TrustMark Framework provider, the HIA can set their own rates for registering contractors onto their lists, thereby making it great value for contractors operating on a sole-trader basis.

    • TrustMark registration gives assurance to the end customer that they will be safeguarded should something go wrong.

    Also, although not official policy, in the DFG Review of 2018 (opens a new window), Foundations recommended that Trustmark standards aligned to the DFG Quality Standard could act as a mechanism for ensuring consistency of DFG delivery across the country.

    For more information about TrustMark, please contact Roy McNally.

    An information iconTrustmark Brochure 2018 (Opens in a new window)

  • These generic job descriptions are high-level descriptions of general duties and responsibilities associated with the most popular job roles within the HIA sector.

    The descriptions can be modified to reflect more specific duties and responsibilities for a particular position. New job opportunities can then be advertised on the Foundations website free of charge.

    Profile

    Identify, develop, plan, direct and implement the business strategy for the agency’s objectives and activities in the local authority area

    To achieve the agency’s stated targets and standards in relation to output and performance

    Ensure that the agency achieves its strategic objectives

    Provide leadership and direction to staff

    Shape the business to reflect the philosophy of the agency in terms of ethos, culture, ethics, environment and community

    To direct, guide and lead service managers to achieve the objectives of their diverse services.

    Duties and Responsibilities

    • Lead the Board in establishing the vision, values and strategic priorities for the agency
    • Develop and deliver on the agency’s strategic plan in the most effective and efficient manner
    • Be accountable for the overall performance of the agency and day-to-day management of the agency, under delegated authority from the Board of Trustees and to meet the requirements of various commissioners
    • Develop, present and regularly review the annual and 5 year Corporate plan as a framework for establishing strategic and operational objectives and translating them into activities, services and utilisation of resources
    • Report on the agency’s progress against the strategic and annual business plans to the Board of Trustees on a regular basis
    • Protect financial assets and fiscal integrity of the agency whilst supporting the expansion of the revenue base, market profile and client and commissioner relationships
    • Manage, motivate, develop and lead managers, ensuring that they operate effectively and that targets and objectives are delivered to the required standard of performance and within available resources
    • Develop the risk management plan for the company in order to manage resources efficiently and effectively
    • Take overall responsibility for the agency’s statutory and regulatory obligations

    Profile

    To lead the Home Improvement Agency internally and represent it externally

    To effectively manage the staff and resources of the agency ensuring it meets all service level agreements and agreed financial targets

    To act as a key member of the Board, to assume responsibility for delivering the strategy as agreed by the Board as a whole.

    To work with the Board and funding partners to ensure the future financial sustainability of the Agency.

    To develop the scope and services of the agency in response to community needs and funding opportunities, ensuring an independent future for as many clients as possible

    Duties and Responsibilities

    • To plan for the survival and growth of the agency within the agreed strategic framework
    • To lead, motivate, manage and develop all members of staff
    • To develop and maintain operational and strategic partnerships with existing and new stakeholders and funders to ensure the financial health of the Agency.
    • To operate within the criteria of Service Level Agreements
    • To build public awareness of the organisation and initiate market-led revenue-building activities within the defined scope of the agency (helping the elderly and disabled)
    • To ensure appropriate policies and procedures are maintained in accordance with best value and practice.
    • To ensure the Home Improvement Agency acts in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association and complies with all relevant legislation.
    • To seek out and recommend opportunities for development and expansion of the operation and seek alternative funding streams primary funders.
    • To constantly monitor the needs of the client group and their expectations of the Agency, and maximise client benefits and value from the Agency services, recommending new services as appropriate.

    Profile

    To provide technical advice, assistance and support to older or disabled people and other vulnerable individuals who wish to repair, adapt or improve their homes.

    Provide an appropriate technical service for the benefit of customers and colleagues from the referral stage through to completion of works within the framework required by the agency

    Where required monitor the work undertaken by Handypersons employed by the agency

    To develop the technical service as appropriate and contribute to the overall development of the home improvement agency business

    Duties and Responsibilities

    • To provide technical advice, assistance and support to older or disabled people and other vulnerable individuals who wish to repair, adapt or improve their homes.
    • Provide an appropriate technical service for the benefit of customers and colleagues from the referral stage through to completion of works within the framework required by the agency
    • Where required monitor the work undertaken by Technicians employed by the agency
    • To develop the technical service as appropriate and contribute to the overall development of the home improvement agency business as part of the home improvement agency
    • To visit clients in their own homes, providing the required level of advice and information, and maintaining regular contact with them at each stage of the case
    • To assess the building work required to the property.
    • To identify property defects and to recommend priorities; prepare preliminary costings; prepare schedules of works, working drawings and implement agency’s tendering process and evaluate the quotations.
    • To maintain and review an up-to-date register of preferred contractors.
    • To administer the contracts for works, instruct contractors and monitor the quality of workmanship
    • Be accountable to the agency manager for the technical service delivered by the agency and report in a timely manner
    • Liaise and maintain good working relationships with other professionals from external, statutory and voluntary organisations to the enhancement of the agency service
    • Be proactive in enabling the agency to work with maximum efficiency
    • Work effectively with local statutory and voluntary organisations and colleagues within the team to progress each case
    • With colleagues develop and implement the case review system and maintain accurate case records
    • Work co-operatively and enable other members of the team to work to the best of their ability
    • Manage the workload delegated by the Agency Manager to ensure output targets are met and that each case is closely monitored
    • Carry out any other specific tasks that may be reasonably required by the Agency Manager with the proviso that any permanent changes will be written into the role profile
    • Be aware of and work to deliver the agency Business Plan
    • Demonstrate continually developing knowledge and skill for the benefit of the agency
    • To work within the agency’s guidelines and procedures
    • To be aware of and committed to the promotion of the agency’s values, mission and diversity statements in both employment and service delivery
    • Contribute to the development of good technical practice throughout the agen

    Profile

    To lead on the provision of an advice, assistance and support service to older or disabled people and other vulnerable individuals who wish to repair, adapt or improve their homes.

    Provide a key worker and liaison service for the client throughout the process and with all other agencies.

    Where required monitor the work undertaken by Caseworkers or other staff employed by the agency

    To develop the caseworker service where appropriate and contribute to the overall development of the business development of the HIA

    Duties and Responsibilities

    Senior Caseworker Components

    • Be accountable for the provision of the caseworker service provided by the agency and foster a culture of continuous improvement
    • Effectively manage the agency casework and other staff as required within the services guidelines to ensure maximum individual effort, personal development and team performance
    • Ensure the performance of the case-working in the agency meets the standards required by us and is in line with the agency business plan
    • Provide a day-to-day management function within the agency as required by the Agency Manager
    • Contribute to business planning for the agency and ensuring delivery of the local business plan
    • Provide accurate reports to the standard and within the timescales required by the agency manager
    • Ensure full communication to agency staff of the development priorities and business direction of the organisation
    • Caseworker Components

    • Advise clients of the financial help available, including grants, welfare benefits, equity release, loans and help them obtain the aid to which they are entitled
    • Ensure all stages of work are monitored, including supervision of work on site and satisfactory completion.
    • Identify other areas of help which may be needed by, or are available to, the client such as re-housing, home care and lifeline and ensure that necessary services are applied for on behalf of the client.
    • Ensure that the client understands and is kept informed of all the procedures and practices involved with their particular circumstances
    • Establish a good working relationship with relevant local authority departments, health services, housing and voluntary groups who are in contact with the client group.
    • Set up systems and maintain the smooth running of the project by ensuring good records are kept on all cases.
    • Provide information to the Manager and other bodies responsible for monitoring the projects performance.
    • Support the Manager in the promotion of the project and ensure widespread publicity through production of leaflets, media coverage and other promotional methods such as talks to groups or attending relevant events.
    • Keep up to date with developments in relevant fields of work and research.
    • Arrange to prepare with the project’s Technical officer’s schedule of work, specifications and drawings as appropriate taking into account the client’s needs and wishes.
    • Seek out estimates for work evaluating these and ensure proper contractual agreements are made between the client and the builder.
    • Arrange final inspections, check final accounts and defects liability and advise clients on payment.
    • Ensure that good records are kept in all cases, updating computerised records as necessary and maintaining case notes and progress forms
    • Participate in staff meetings and training courses as required.
    • Carry out other tasks that may reasonably be required from time to time by the Manager in support of the project and its development.
    • Promote and maintain a customer focus
    • Promote and maintain an active approach to health and safety, in respect of yourself, colleagues and customers.
    • Ensure that the organisation’s Equality & Diversity Policy is fully implemented at all times.
    • Be proactive in enabling the agency to work with maximum efficiency
    • Work effectively with local statutory and voluntary organisations and colleagues within the team to progress each case
    • With colleagues develop and implement the case review system and maintain accurate case records
    • Work co-operatively and enable other members of the team to work to the best of their ability
    • Manage the workload delegated by the Agency Manager to ensure output targets are met and that each case is closely monitored
    • Carry out any other specific tasks that may be reasonably required by the Agency Manager with the proviso that any permanent changes will be written into the role profile
    • Be aware of and work to deliver the agency Business Plan
    • Demonstrate continually developing knowledge and skill for the benefit of the agency
    • To work within the agency’s guidelines and procedures
    • To be aware of and committed to the promotion of the agency’s values, mission and diversity statements in both employment and service delivery
    • Contribute to the development of good casework practice throughout the agency

    Profile

    To provide advice and casework support to elderly, vulnerable and disabled Care and Repair clients who wish to undertake repairs, improvements and adaptations to their homes.

    Duties and Responsibilities

    • Advise clients of the financial help available, including grants, welfare benefits, equity release, loans and help them obtain the aid to which they are entitled.
    • Ensure all stages of work are monitored, including supervision of work on site and satisfactory completion.
    • Identify other areas of help which may be needed by, or are available to, the client such as re-housing, home care and lifeline and ensure that necessary services are applied for on behalf of the client.
    • Ensure that the client understands and is kept informed of all the procedures and practices involved with their particular circumstances
    • Establish a good working relationship with relevant local authority departments, health services, housing and voluntary groups who are in contact with the client group.
    • Set up systems and maintain the smooth running of the project by ensuring good records are kept on all cases.
    • Provide information to the Manager and other bodies responsible for monitoring the projects performance.
    • Support the Manager in the promotion of the project and ensure widespread publicity through production of leaflets, media coverage and other promotional methods such as talks to groups or attending relevant events.
    • Keep up to date with developments in relevant fields of work and research.
    • Arrange to prepare with the project’s Technical officer’s schedule of work, specifications and drawings as appropriate taking into account
    • Seek out estimates for work evaluating these and ensure proper contractual agreements are made between the client and the builder.
    • Arrange final inspections, check final accounts and defects liability and advise clients on payment.
    • Ensure that good records are kept in all cases, updating computerised records as necessary and maintaining case notes and progress forms
    • Participate in staff meetings and training courses as required.
    • Carry out other tasks that may reasonably be required from time to time by the Manager in support of the project and its development.
    • Promote and maintain a customer focus
    • Promote and maintain an active approach to health and safety, in respect of yourself, colleagues and customers.
    • Ensure that the organisation’s Equality & Diversity Policy is fully implemented at all times.
    • Be proactive in enabling the agency to work with maximum efficiency
    • Work effectively with local statutory and voluntary organisations and colleagues within the team to progress each case
    • With colleagues develop and implement the case review system and maintain accurate case records
    • Work co-operatively and enable other members of the team to work to the best of their ability
    • Manage the workload delegated by the Agency Manager to ensure output targets are met and that each case is closely monitored
    • Carry out any other specific tasks that may be reasonably required by the Agency Manager with the proviso that any permanent changes will be written into the role profile
    • Be aware of and work to deliver the agency Business Plan
    • Demonstrate continually developing knowledge and skill for the benefit of the agency
    • To work within the agency’s guidelines and procedures
    • To be aware of and committed to the promotion of the agency’s values, mission and diversity statements in both employment and service delivery
    • Contribute to the development of good casework practice throughout the agency

    Profile

    To provide technical and other advice, assistance and support to older or disabled people and other vulnerable individuals who wish to repair, adapt or improve their homes.

    Provide an appropriate technical service for the benefit of customers and colleagues from the referral stage through to completion of works within the framework required by the agency

    Provide a key worker and liaison service for the client throughout the process and with all other agencies.

    To develop the technical and caseworker service where appropriate and contribute to the overall development of the Home Improvement Agency

    Duties and Responsibilities

    Technical Caseworker Components

    • To visit clients in their own homes, providing the required level of advice and information, and maintaining regular contact with them at each stage of the case
    • To assess the building work required to the property.
    • To identify property defects and to recommend priorities; prepare preliminary costings; prepare schedules of works, working drawings and implement The agency The agency’s tendering process and evaluate the quotations.
    • To maintain and review an up-to-date register of preferred contractors.
    • To administer the contracts for works, instruct contractors and monitor the quality of workmanship

    Caseworker Components

    • Advise clients of the financial help available, including grants, welfare benefits, equity release, loans and help them obtain the aid to which they are entitled.
    • Ensure all stages of work are monitored, including supervision of work on site and satisfactory completion.
    • Identify other areas of help which may be needed by, or are available to, the client such as re-housing, home care and lifeline and ensure that necessary services are applied for on behalf of the client.
    • Ensure that the client understands and is kept informed of all the procedures and practices involved with their particular circumstances
    • Establish a good working relationship with relevant local authority departments, health services, housing and voluntary groups who are in contact with the client group.
    • Set up systems and maintain the smooth running of the project by ensuring good records are kept on all cases.
    • Provide information to the Manager and other bodies responsible for monitoring the projects performance.
    • Support the Manager in the promotion of the project and ensure widespread publicity through production of leaflets, media coverage and other promotional methods such as talks to groups or attending relevant events.
    • Keep up to date with developments in relevant fields of work and research.
    • Arrange to prepare with the project’s Technical officer’s schedule of work, specifications and drawings as appropriate taking into account the client’s needs and wishes.
    • Seek out estimates for work evaluating these and ensure proper contractual agreements are made between the client and the builder.
    • Arrange final inspections, check final accounts and defects liability and advise clients on payment.
    • Ensure that good records are kept in all cases, updating computerised records as necessary and maintaining case notes and progress forms
    • Participate in staff meetings and training courses as required.
    • Carry out other tasks that may reasonably be required from time to time by the Manager in support of the project and its development.
    • Promote and maintain a customer focus
    • Promote and maintain an active approach to health and safety, in respect of yourself, colleagues and customers.
    • Ensure that the organisation’s Equality & Diversity Policy is fully implemented at all times.

    Profile

    To provide administrative and clerical support to the home improvement agency team To develop the efficiency of administrative processes at the agency level and, where appropriate contribute to the overall development of the agency business plan

    Duties and Responsibilities

    • To maintain professional relationships with the Agency’s customers and colleagues
    • To develop and maintain office systems which enable other agency staff to manage their caseload to maximum efficiency
    • Take, record and refer on enquiries appropriately
    • To maintain client records on the database and produce relevant information for statistical reports and case reviews
    • To be responsible for the day to day control of the petty cash and record agency income and expenditure according to the Agency’s financial procedures
    • To maintain the First Aid box and office supplies
    • Provide Personal Assistant service to Agency Manager as required
    • Be proactive in enabling the agency to work with maximum efficiency
    • Work effectively with local statutory and voluntary organisations and colleagues within the team to progress each case
    • With colleagues develop and implement the case review system and maintain accurate case records
    • Work co-operatively and enable other members of the team to work to the best of their ability
    • Manage the workload delegated by the Agency Manager to ensure output targets are met and that each case is closely monitored
    • Carry out any other specific tasks that may be reasonably required by the Agency Manager with the proviso that any permanent changes will be written into the role profile
    • Be aware of and work to deliver the agency Business Plan
    • Demonstrate continually developing knowledge and skill for the benefit of the agency
    • To work within the agency’s guidelines and procedures
    • To be aware of and committed to the promotion of the agency’s values, mission and diversity statements in both employment and service delivery
    • Contribute to the development of good administrative practice throughout the agency

    Profile

    To provide a handyperson / small repairs skills to older people and people with disabilities appropriate to the agency’s eligibility criteria

    Duties and Responsibilities

    • When required visit clients’ homes to determine the nature of the work required and where necessary the cost of materials needed to complete the job.
    • Where appropriate, be responsible for the ordering and obtaining of materials necessary to carry out the required work and keep appropriate records of the work carried out and materials for each job.
    • Carry out a wide range of tasks to the standard and within the timescales required by the agency manager
    • Where appropriate liaise with Occupational Therapy staff and other professionals in the fitting of equipment and the execution of minor adaptations to their specification.
    • Ensure that all work is carried out in a safe manner and that the Health and Safety policy is adhered to.
    • Be responsible for the removal of waste and debris after completing the required work and to leave the site clean and tidy.
    • Effectively manage workload to the maximum benefit of the agency and within HSE guidelines
    • Maintain appropriate records as required in the procedures for the scheme
    • Establish good working relationships with suppliers
    • Follow all required financial procedures
    • Be proactive in enabling the agency to work with maximum efficiency
    • Work effectively with local statutory and voluntary organisations and colleagues within the team to progress each case
    • With colleagues develop and implement the case review system and maintain accurate case records
    • Work co-operatively and enable other members of the team to work to the best of their ability
    • Manage the workload delegated by the Agency Manager to ensure output targets are met and that each case is closely monitored
    • Carry out any other specific tasks that may be reasonably required by the Agency Manager with the proviso that any permanent changes will be written into the role profile
    • Be aware of and work to deliver the agency Business Plan
    • Demonstrate continually developing knowledge and skill for the benefit of the agency
    • To work within the agency’s guidelines and procedures
    • To be aware of and committed to the promotion of the agency’s values, mission and diversity statements in both employment and service delivery
    • Contribute to the development of good handyperson practice throughout the agency
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  • Home Improvement Agencies rely on contracts and fee income to fund their services. This section covers some of the issues you will need to be aware of if you manage a HIA or Handyperson Service.

    VAT and Agency Fees

    In 2003, as Home Improvement Agency Services (HIAs) were placed within the Supporting People programme, Foundations issued an Advice Note on VAT. The purpose of that note was to clarify the position of HIAs around their liabilities for VAT from that time. The advice note drew upon:

    • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Communities and Local Government’s (CLG) joint guidance to help determine whether VAT is chargeable on a Supporting People contract contained within The Interim Financial Package (chapter 1, pp 55-59) published by the CLG in June 2002
    • The joint National Housing Federation/SITRA document, “Supporting People and VAT”, issued August 2002
    • Subsequent correspondence between Foundations and HMRC over specific issues for HIA services

    Since 2003 we have received little information that has caused us to change our view on the efficacy of that Advice Note. Much of what follows below is an updated version of the content of the earlier document.

    Joint HMRC and MHCLG Guidance

    This guidance (opens a new window) sets three conditions to be met in order for a HIA to exempt its services from VAT.

    All three conditions must prevail:

    1. The Status of the Service Recipients - must be “…elderly, sick, distressed or disabled persons”
    2. The Status of the Service Provider must be a Local Authority or have Charitable Status. In order to have Charitable status, an organisation must be:
      Registered with the Charity Commissioners OR

      Registered as an Industrial or Provident Society under the 1965 Act and established for charitable purposes OR

      Registered under the Friendly Societies Act of 1974 and established for charitable purposes OR

      Recognised as a charitable organisation by the Inland Revenue (only applicable in Scotland and Northern Ireland)

    3. The service provided must be an exempt activity. In order for the service to be seen as exempt it must pass two tests:
      It should be a welfare service which is directly connected with the “provision of care, treatment or instruction designed to promote the physical or mental welfare of elderly, sick, distressed or disabled persons”. The example given of exempt activities that best encompasses HIA services is “support or instruction designed to develop or sustain a person’s capacity to live independently in the community”. Specifically for a HIA this would include home visiting, advice on benefits and welfare services and support to cope with the stress of building work.

      If the service provided meets the above criteria but is one a person would normally be expected to do for themselves (such as making financial arrangements, liaising with builders, obtaining quotes, supervising work) then the person must be assessed as being unable to do this themselves “…safely, adequately or without significant pain or discomfort”. An appropriately trained or experienced person must carry out such an assessment. For a HIA this person would be the caseworker. This assessment will normally take place during the initial visit by the caseworker in the client’s home.

    The questions on a standard HIA assessment form about the client’s levels of disability to perform various tasks can be used to inform this assessment.

    What is the VAT status of your Contract?

    If all the above conditions are met, i.e.

    • the service provider is within the exempt categories
    • the service recipient is assessed as vulnerable
    • the service is an exempt welfare one

    then HIAs should be able to claim exemption from VAT on their contract with Local Authorities.

    HIAs services are typically a package of agreed support measures. This package may involve a service which would not normally be seen as exempt for VAT purposes (for example drawing up of plans, building work schedules).

    In this case, the advice in The Interim Financial Package referred to above states that:

    “Where a supply consists of more than one element…this may form a single supply for VAT purposes. There is a single supply for VAT purposes where one or more of the elements of the service are regarded as constituting the principal service while one or more elements are regarded as ancillary services. A service is ancillary if it does not constitute for customers an aim in itself, but a means of enjoying better the principal service. In such cases the VAT liability of the whole supply follows that of the predominant element. Where the predominant element of a single supply is VAT exempt support services, the whole supply may be VAT exempt”. (Chapter 1, p.56)

    Thus to be VAT exempt, the service specified under your contract must be provided directly by the HIA as a single package of support within an agreed timeframe, and the support and advice element must be the main part of the service provided.

    What about VAT on Fees?

    Although the guidance refers to VAT and a Supporting People / Local Authority contract, it is also useful when deciding whether HIAs should charge VAT on fees.

    Fees on grants from local authorities are regulated by the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 (S.I. 2002/1860). This Order provides for a much more flexible approach to the funding of repairs, improvements, or adaptations, and the assistance to people in accessing those funds.

    Fees are still normally permitted by local housing authorities for a range of services. Some of these services fall within the definition of support/advice, which can be a VAT exempt activity, e.g.

    • Assistance in completing forms
    • Advice on financing the cost of the relevant works that are not met by grant
    • Advice on contracts

    Some services charged for in the grant fee would normally be deemed as being subject to VAT (e.g. drawing up of plans). However, as described above, VAT liability on a service provided as a single composite supply will be charged on the principal activity of the package. Where this is advice and support the whole service may be VAT exempt.

    What about Handyperson Services?

    Handyperson Services are a building activity and will attract VAT if charged for, whatever the status of the provider or service recipient.

    What does this all me for me and my situation?

    Some HIAs charge VAT for their services and some do not, some charge for only elements of their service, the picture is very mixed. A number reviewed their situation in 2003 and changed their position. As recently as 2016 a major provider of HIA services won a decision from their local HMRC Regional Office that acknowledged the exemption of the service from paying VAT. However, this may not always be the case. For instance a HIA may not have the staffing for support to be its main activity. If:

    • you restrict your services to the preparation of plans, schedules of work and supervision of works
    • you do not carry out an assessment of need
    • the service user is not vulnerable but has been directed to use the service by the local authority as a means of accessing a grant

    then clearly there can be no VAT exemption as the service provided is not a welfare service.

    Lastly

    This is an advice note, not definitive guidance. HMRC are clear that in case of doubt you must seek clarification with a tax advisor.