Extensions, Alterations and House Purchase

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New links to LCS guidance were added to this chapter in April 2012.

This chapter was developed/entirely revised in September 2012 and should be read in full.

This chapter is currently under review.

1. Framework

The budget has been set up to contribute to the costs of alterations to adopters homes where the work is required to sustain and or maintain an adoptive placement. All payments are in accordance with the adoption support regulations 2005. Payments will be up to a maximum of £5000 and it is proposed that three such grants will be available each year.

2. Financial Practice

  • All work must be submitted for approval from the budget before any work is undertaken;
  • All invoices for the work should be addressed to the adopters first and will be paid by Children's Services central finance unit (operations) at County Hall;
  • All works will be overseen by Mouchel Parkman;
  • If the adaptations are for a child with disabilities the adopter must provide the builder with an eligibility declaration to enable the work to be zero rated for VAT where appropriate.

3. Proposal

The proposal must be submitted to the head of Adoption by the manager of the adoption support team.

The Head of the adoption service will consider the request against the criteria and priorities set out below in the context of other requests and the budget available.

Any proposal must be supported by an assessment of needs for adoption support.

Before any financial support is payable a financial assessment form must be completed.

The budget is intended for works which increase the space for the child, not for updating of the existing area.

The social worker will be advised whether the proposal has been rejected or will be investigated further within a time limit of 28 days from receipt.

4. Criteria

The application must meet all the following criteria:

  • The child concerned was adopted from the care of a local authority;
  • The child themselves would meet the criteria for on-going financial support as detailed in 2(e)(f)9 adoption support regulations 2003;
  • The adopters means are such that financial support would be payable;
  • Assistance is necessary to ensure that the adoptive parents can continue to look after the child.

5. Priority

  • Only placements which fall into one of more of the following priority groups will be considered;
  • Sibling groups;
  • Children that were placed as those with complex needs, special needs, those from ethnic minorities, those with disabilities.

6. Details of the Work Required

For administrator ease please start this section on a separate sheet of paper.

The proposal must also include the following details:

Is the property owned or rented? If rented who is the landlord? The possibility of moving to a larger property should have been explored and rejected before an extension/ alteration is proposed. The reasons for not moving should be stated.

Whether there are any known planning issues, which may affect the appearance, location and/or feasibility of the extension/conversion. This may be checked by an informal enquiry to the District Council.

Whether there are any restrictive covenants in the deeds to the property, which would affect the proposed works.

Whether the property is listed/ in a conservation area which may affect the planning consent required and what alterations can be carried out.

Outline of work required: This needs to cover all known major items as it will be sued for setting the budget for the works, i.e. extension/ loft conversion, number of rooms and approximate size, bath/ shower rooms, where extension/ conversion will go, work required on other rooms as a result of the extension/ conversion, adaptations required to meet the needs of a child with disabilities.

Estimate of costs (if available).

Whether the adopter is willing/ able to contribute to the works.

7. Mouchel Parkman Involvement

Where further investigations are agreed, a copy of the Details of the Work required will be sent to Children's Services Property Unit who will arrange for a surveyor from Mouchel Parkman to visit the adopter's property. The papers will be passed to Mouchel Parkman within 7 days.

The purpose of the visit from Mouchel Parkman is to:

  • Advise on the feasibility of the proposal, (including an assessment of the current condition of the existing building);
  • Advise on any likely planning implications/ building difficulties, check drawings for applicability;
  • Advice whether the Party Wall Action will apply and the likely implications;
  • Estimate the total cost of the proposal bases on the outline proposal prepared by the social worker and adopters including separate amount for:
    • Cost of the works, including decoration the new room(s) and making good other rooms affected by the proposal;
    • All fees including those for a RLCS accredited building surveyor to oversee the works;
    • Contingency sum;
    • A fixed allowance for carpets;
    • VAT.

Final check to ensure that works have been completed to the agreed standard and in compliance with appropriate HCC standing orders.

Mouchel Parkman will report back to the Children's Services Property Unit within 28 days of receipt of the Details of the Work required, subject to the property being available for a visit by the Mouchel Parkman Surveyor. Children's Services Property unit will pass the report to the Head of Adoption Service within 1 working day.

The Head of Adoption will consider the advice given and will consult with the Link Accountant for this budget. She will advise the Social Worker and Foster Carer in writing within 14 days.

Whether the proposal is agreed or not:

  • Provide a copy of the report from Mouchel Parkman;
  • If agreed, the budget for the scheme and how it is to be funded;
  • When the budget will be available.

Copies will also be sent to the Link Accountant and to County Secretaries if a load secured by legal charge is proposed.

8. Processing the Invoices

Payments will be made by Children's Services Central Finance Unit (Operations), on receipt of invoices signed by the adopter for the items included in the agreed budget up to the amounts agreed.

Invoices should be addressed to the adopter who should annotate the invoice 'agreed' and sign the invoice before sending it to the Link Accountant, Children's Services Central Finance Unit (Operations) Room 66, County Hall.

The final invoice should not be sent for payment until the works have been completed to the adopter's satisfaction.

The allowance for carpets may be claimed as a lump sum. The allowance will be paid by Children's Services Central Finance Unit (Operations), on the basis of a measured estimate one week before the estimated completion date. The maximum allowance for carpets is £20 per square metre for stairs/ landing and living areas and £15 per square metre for bedrooms, including underlay, plus fitting costs. If he adopter chooses carpets which cost more than this they will be expected to meet the difference.

Where alterations are carried out to the private residence of a disabled person, then, subject to certain criteria, the alterations may quality for zero-rating (i.e. the builder, if VAT registered, may be able to exclude VAT when calculating the cost of the works).

In order to obtain the benefit of zero rating, the adopter, as legal guardian of the child, will have to provide the builder with a signed eligibility declaration.

The adopter should obtain the leaflet "VAT relief's for people with disabilities" (VAT Notice 701/7), which is available from the Anglia VAT Business Advice Centre (Tel 08450 199399). The leaflet explains what works qualify for zero-rating, as well as providing an example of the eligibility declaration that will need to be completed.

Where works do not qualify for zero-rating VAT will be charged by the builder. This VAT can be reclaimed by Children's Services.

9. Record Keeping

The adopter is advised to keep detailed records of all expenditure and income/ grant on the extension/ conversion for tax purposes.

10. House Purchases

In exception circumstances, where an extension is not feasible or cost effective and where the adopter is willing to move house, funding may be provided to support he alternative of a house move.

A detailed financial breakdown of the proposal must be submitted to demonstrate that this is the most cost effective option.