UK on verge of accessible housing crisis, survey shows

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of adults think all new homes should be built to be suitable for all ages and abilities.

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A poll of more than 4,000 UK adults shows that most people want every new home to be built in a way which is suitable for all people of all ages and abilities.

The research, commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better, further reveals that nearly three quarters (72%) of people polled by YouGov agreed that homes should, as standard, be built to be suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

Nearly half (48%) disagreed that UK society does enough to support people to live at home safely and independently as we age.

The research is said to illustrate the degree to which people would be ‘happy’ to buy a home that comes with features like level access entrances, walk-in showers or handrails.

One-third (33%) of those polled said they would be encouraged to purchase a home with these characteristics, with a further 48% saying they would be neither encouraged nor discouraged.

Among younger people, there is a large market for these homes, with a quarter of 18-24s (25%) and 25-34s (28%) saying that they would be encouraged to buy them, with around half saying they would be neither encouraged nor discouraged.

More than three in five (61%) respondents don’t think their current home would be suitable for a person with a disability or an older relative to move around, and among over-65s, nearly half (45%) personally worry about themselves ‘struggling’ with everyday activities like cooking, bathing or eating in the future.

According to the English Housing Survey, just 7% of UK homes meet basic accessibility standards.

One in five homes in England is deemed ‘non-decent’, with non-decent homes disproportionately lived in by people in later life.

Following this, the Centre for Ageing Better is calling for a ‘radical overhaul’ of housing policy, aimed at delivering accessible homes which are ‘age-proof, flexible and suitable for everyone’.

They further state that developers and councils should be required to build every new home to standard, meaning they are accessible for someone with a disability and, if needed, can be “easily and cost-effectively” adapted to meet additional needs.

Dr Anna Dixon, CEO of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “The woeful state of today’s housing stock is amongst the worst in Europe.

“With more and more people living for longer, and many of them managing health conditions, this situation is unsustainable.

“We are facing an accessible housing crisis, putting unnecessary pressure on individuals, families and public services. If we do nothing, this will only get worse.”

She added: “There is a big market for homes that everyone can live in, regardless of their age or ability. Our research shows a strong public appetite for age-proof homes which enable people to live active and fulfilling lives – whatever their situation.

“We need everyone responsible for building new homes to get on board and give people what they want.

“National rules must be strengthened, and planners within local authorities must work with developers and builders to enforce them. As we seek to build more homes, we must make sure that they are suitable for everyone.”

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