UK facing accessible home crisis, report

An ‘accessible home crisis’ is looming with less than 25% of homes built outside of London between now and 2030 predicted as being suitable for older and disabled people, new research has warned.

According to housing provider Habinteg’s analysis of 322 local planning authorities, though 1.2 million wheelchair users live in the UK only 1% of homes outside London are set to be suitable for wheelchair use.

Additionally, Insight Report: A Forecast for Accessible Homes reveals:

  • There is a postcode lottery in the supply of new accessible and adaptable homes
  • By 2030 there will only be one accessible new home built for every 270 people in the West Midlands, one accessible new home for every 52 people in the East of England, and one accessible new home for every 24 people in London.
  • London bolsters the national forecast as the Greater London Authority require 90% of new homes to be built to accessible and adaptable standards and 10% to wheelchair accessible

Habinteg is now calling on the government to change the national policy so that all new homes are built to be more accessible and adaptable, warning that if suitable homes are not built older and disabled people will be excluded from aspects of daily life – which will place increasing demand on public services.

Sheron Carter, Habinteg’s chief executive, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

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

Sam Renke, actress, broadcaster and Habinteg tenant, said: ‘I constantly worry that if job opportunities come up in another area, I 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.’

Download and read the full report here.