William Eichler 11 May 2018

Disabled people 'trapped' in unsuitable homes

The equality commission has called for a national strategy to ensure disabled people have access to suitable housing as survey reveals only 7% of England’s housing stock meets minimum standards.

A survey of all local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales has revealed a chronic shortage of housing that can be adapted to help people living with disabilities.

Commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the poll found 365,000 disabled people say their home is not suitable for their needs.

In their report Housing and Disabled People: Britain’s hidden Crisis, the commission called for a national strategy to ensure there is an adequate supply of houses built to inclusive design standards.

They also recommended a review of the way that building standards are enforced.

‘As the saying goes: "home, sweet home", but for thousands of disabled people across the UK, their homes create only a sense of being trapped and the cause of distress,’ said the commission chair, David Isaac.

‘No one’s right to independent living should be limited by their home, and making the necessary adaptations should never require lengthy waiting lists and result in endless confusion.

‘Governments must take note of our recommendations and act now to address this hidden crisis that affects the lives of so many disabled people.’

The commission also demanded that both national and local governments improve the way data is collected and shared, both on the requirements of disabled people and on the number of adaptable homes already built.

Their survey discovered that only 16% of authorities felt their data estimating the number of disabled people currently in inappropriate housing was ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

They also found only 22% of councils have an accessible housing register and only 28% have a target in place for accessible housing.

Around 55% did not include a target for accessible and/or adaptable housing delivery in their most recent local plan or development plan.

Responding to the commission’s findings, Paul Smith, director of the national body for home improvement agencies Foundations, said: ‘This report highlights the challenges many disabled people face and the progress that we need to make in order to address the lack of accessible and adaptable housing.

‘As the Commission points out, there are huge benefits to supporting disabled people to live independently.

‘Local home improvement agencies help thousands of people every year to make the adaptations they need to their homes.

‘As a result the vast majority of people can then continue to live independently, maintaining the important social links with family and friends.'

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