Inquiry underlines lack of accessible and adaptable housing
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has highlighted the state of the nation’s housing for people with a disability, underlining the current lack of adequate provision of accessible and adaptable housing following its formal inquiry.
Starting the inquiring in 2016, the Commission examined whether the availability of accessible and adaptable housing, and the support services associated with it, fulfilled disabled people’s rights to independent living in England, Scotland and Wales.
By gathering evidence from disabled people about their housing experience, the EHRC identified four major challenges preventing the provision of necessary housing by local authorities and registered landlords across all three countries.
The report found that disabled people are too often demoralised and frustrated by the housing system; there is a significant shortage of accessible homes; installing home adaptations involves unacceptable bureaucracy and delay; and disabled people are not getting the support their need to live independently.
From the results, the report recommends that more adaptable homes are built for disabled people and that local and national governments engage with disabled people at planning stages, calling on the Government to introduce a national strategy that ensures there is an adequate supply of new homes built to universal/inclusive design standards and wheelchair-accessible standards.
Other recommendations include improving the installation of home adaptions, making more funding available, increasing the amount of housing options advice, matching homes to people that need them and support people to live independently.
Susan Johnson, Commissioner at the EHRC, commented: “Our report calls for simple changes to the current planning system so that local authorities can ensure that more accessible homes are being built. Local authorities need better data and information to match accessible properties to people who need them and they need to offer good support to disabled tenants. We need less bureaucracy to speed up essential adaptations.
“This isn’t just the decent thing to do but makes sense for the public purse. Our hospitals are under immense strain to discharge patients as quickly as possible but can’t due to inadequate housing, social care budgets are under pressure, and the costs of retrofitting homes outweigh the cost of making them adaptable from day one.
There are some local authorities who are leading the charge by putting disabled people’s needs at the heart of planning and reaping the benefits. But this is the exception rather than the norm.
“Over the next 12 months, we will be seeking changes to national planning policy to help build more accessible homes. We will work alongside local authorities to provide the tools to help them meet their equality duties and get housing right for disabled people. Importantly, we will also be making sure disabled people seeking accessible social housing know their rights and where to go if these are breached.”
To read the full report, click HERE