Campaign calls for better accessibility standard in new homes

There are currently 6.5 million people with mobility problems in the UK.

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Age UK and Habinteg Housing have today (7th August) released a campaigning factsheet that calls for all new homes to be built to higher accessibility standards.

According to recent reports, there are currently 6.5 million people currently living with mobility problems in the UK, with a further 13.9 million reported as disabled.

The new factsheet, Home Truths – rebutting the 10 myths about building accessible housing, challenges the myths that delivering accessible housing is “too costly, too difficult or simply undesirable for buyers”.

According to the joint-calls, an ageing population and increasing numbers of people with mobility problems means that new homes need to be accessible and adaptable to ensure they work for everybody, supporting independence, health, and wellbeing.

Introduced in 2015, the accessible and adaptable standard ensures a basic level of accessibility and adaptability through a range of features including level access and wider doorways.

However, the standards as set are optional, meaning local planning authorities must make the case for requiring new homes in their area to be built to the standard.

According to reports, only 7% of all existing stock has the most basic features that make homes visitable to disabled people and older people with restricted mobility.

As the government increases its target for housebuilding, the two parties are jointly calling for:

  • Regulation to ensure all new homes are built to accessible adaptable standard
  • 10% of new homes to be built to wheelchair accessible standards
  • In the interim, the government to amend planning rules to protect the discretion of local authorities to decide the number of accessible homes built in their area

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “A well-designed home can work across a whole lifetime or for any generation, so it just makes common sense to make sure that all new homes are accessible, flexible, and adaptable regardless of whether they are initially built for first-time buyers.

“If not, we’re creating swathes of housing stock that won’t be appropriate for a big part of the population.

“We know there are huge benefits to people being able to stay in their own home as they get older – and if we make it harder for people to do this then it will have a detrimental impact on people’s health and wellbeing, as well as a financial impact in the terms of the costs to the NHS.

“Last Month the prime minister committed to a consultation that could deliver up to 300,000 new accessible and adaptable homes. We are calling on the new Prime Minister to follow this through as a priority.”

Sheron Carter, Habinteg CEO, added: “As a provider of accessible and inclusive housing for almost 50 years, Habinteg knows how big a difference it can make for older and disabled people to have a home that really suits their needs.

“An adaptable home and environment allows people to maintain connections with family and friends and stay active in their local community.

“The ability to move around the home and use its facilities with less effort brings dignity to life when things are changing. It helps people to retain their self-esteem and independence.”

She added: “It’s so important that we challenge misconceptions about accessible homes. They are just ordinary homes with accessible and adaptable features.

“Just a bit of thoughtfulness in design makes a huge difference. We hope that this Home Truths myth buster will be a useful tool for everyone who wants to push for homes that are good for every generation.”

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