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Disabled people in housing crisis

11 May 2018

Disabled people have been left frustrated and trapped by a chronic shortage of suitable housing, as unnecessary bureaucracy and insufficient support leave them trapped in unsuitable homes, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned.

The results of an eighteen month formal legal inquiry, published today, call for governments to take urgent action to make all new houses adaptable and accessible, as 365,000 disabled people say their home is not suitable for their needs.

Kamran Mallick, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK said:

'This research shows some of the fundamental issues we face on a day-to-day basis.

'Appropriate housing is key to independent living and creating choice and control for disabled people.

'But it’s also better for the tax payer. Better housing options mean disabled people are less likely to seek support from hard pressed health and social care providers. The same is true if we develop ways to ensure the swift provision of aids and adaptations when people become disabled.

'We need clear standards for developers and designers so we begin to see the establishment of more lifetime homes; and better policing and support for private landlords, who have a huge slice of the rental market.'

Housing and disabled people: Britain’s hidden crisis calls on governments to produce a national strategy to ensure there is an adequate supply of houses built to inclusive design standards and for a review of the way that building standards are enforced.

In England, only seven percent of housing stock meets minimum standards. The inquiry surveyed all local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales and found many have failed to collect data or meet current demands, let alone plan for the future. The failure to set targets for the future is of particular concern as the number of disabled people is increasing: an estimated 13.3 million in Britain in 2016, up from 11.9 million in 2013 to 2014.

  • only 16 percent of authorities felt their data estimating the number of disabled people currently in inappropriate housing was ‘good’ or ‘very good’

  • only 22 percent have an accessible housing register

  • only 28 percent have a target in place for accessible housing

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

The findings raise alarming concerns that disabled people’s right to independent living is being heavily restricted by unsuitable and unsafe housing. The ability to move around, leave the house and take as full and active role in the community as possible is vital to disabled people, and essential in ensuring they have access to education and employment.

Housing and Disabled People