Housing plans risk ‘accessible homes crisis’, according to new report

Just 1% of homes outside London are suitable for wheelchair users, despite 1.2 million users in the UK.

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Habinteg Housing Association have today warned of an ‘accessible homes crisis’ as new research reveals that less than a quarter of homes built outside London by 2030 will be suitable for older and disabled people.

In a nationwide analysis of 322 local planning policies, the report reveals that just 1% of homes outside London are set to be suitable for wheelchair users, despite 1.2 million wheelchair users currently residing in the UK.

Habinteg’s new ‘Insight Report: A Forecast for Accessible Homes’ analyses English local plans which set policies for what types of homes are to be built by 2030 and where.

According to reports, 13.9 million disabled people in the UK yet just 7% of English homes are said to currently provide even the most basic accessibility features.

Further outlined, the report highlights that by 2030, there will only be one accessible new home built for every 270 people in the West Midlands, one accessible home for every 52 people in the East of England and one for every 24 people in London.

London is also highlighted to bolster the national forecast as the Greater London Authority require 90% of new homes built to acceptable and adaptable standards and 10% to wheelchair accessible standards.

Habinteg have said that unless new homes are suitable, older and disabled people will be excluded from aspects of daily life, placing increasing demand on public services.

The group are calling on the government to change national policy so that all new homes are built to be more accessible and adaptable.

They are further urging the need to:

  • Set the ‘accessible adaptable’ standard – M4(2) Category 2 as the new mandatory baseline, as it is in London
  • Ensure the Secretary of State for Homes, Communities & Local Government issues new guidance to local planning authorities on how they should reflect the housing needs of older and disabled people in their plans
  • Local authorities to set a defined percentage of new homes as wheelchair accessible M4(3) Category 3

Habinteg’s CEO, Sheron Carter said of the findings: “We would encourage national government to take a more strategic approach to accessible homes delivery.

“The optional approach is not only putting older and disabled people’s health and independence at risk but creating costly housing problems for the future.

She added: “While the government has stated their ambition for getting more disabled people into work, our research shows that this will fail unless the housing crisis for disabled people is urgently tackled.

“We strongly urge the government to raise the mandatory baseline standard for accessible homes.”

Actress, broadcaster and Habinteg tenant, Sam Renke said that she constantly worries that if job opportunities come up in another area, she may have to turn them down because there’s “not enough housing that’s accessible.

“As a full-time wheelchair user, moving to London and having a home that really works for me has been vital to my ability to develop my career.

“After a long time in unsuitable accommodation I’m in a wheelchair accessible home that meets my needs, but there is always a lingering anxiety about what may happen in the future”, she said.

On the released report, Local Government Association housing spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: “Housing is critical to the wellbeing of individuals, and well-designed accessible homes are needed to meet the housing needs of our ageing population.

“Councils want to ensure the right homes are built in the right places but currently don’t have the powers or funding to build the homes that are desperately needed.

“We believe that new homes should be accessible or easily adaptable for people of all generations and needs, and it is vital the government ensures national rules incentivise the building of accessible homes.

“Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that most people will live in existing housing. The government needs to continue to invest in supporting the adaptation of homes to meet the needs of people as their circumstances change”, he added.

Dr Rachael Docking, Senior Programme Manager, Centre for Ageing Better said the report highlighted theshameful lack” of accessible homes available to suit the changing population now and in the future.

 “Unfortunately, many local authorities lack a detailed understanding of the homes needed to support our longer lives.

Even when they do provide specific requirements, there is often resistance from developers to build homes which older people or people living with a disability could live in, meaning they have nowhere to move to when their home isn’t suitable anymore,” said Dr Docking.

“We need to provide better guidance to local planners on what homes are needed and require developers to make every new-build home in the UK future-proofed and accessible.”

“Inaction condemns disabled and older people to daily suffering and limited independence.

With action and commitment, we can build better homes that everyone can live in, regardless of their age or ability,” she said.

 

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