More should be invested in accessible homes because they can alleviate pressures on health and social care services, such as waits for community care equipment and hospital bed-blocking.
That’s according to housing firm Habinteg, which says accessible homes can help to solve the £820m a year the NHS spends on bed-blocking and the 46,000 days lost caused by waits for equipment and adaptations.
The company says that the economic and social benefits are not confined to healthcare and that disabled people living in inaccessible homes are four times more likely to be unemployed than those living in accessible accommodation.
Habinteg’s new policy update outlines its recommendations for accessible housing and offers an insight into the current UK policy landscape for accessible housing.
The Accessible Housing Policy Update highlights the significant accessible housing deficit, seeks to inform and update housing professionals about policy developments that may affect them, and makes the case for including accessibility amongst their top priorities.
A statement from Habinteg reads: “There are currently around 1.8m people with an accessible housing need in the UK, including around 300,000 disabled adults who have an unmet accessible housing need. The challenges presented by our ageing population are likely to significantly increase the need for accessible, adaptable homes. However, only 7% of homes in England offer even minimum accessibility features.
“The Accessible Housing Policy Update discusses the latest policy developments in relation to accessibility, including the Housing White Paper and the Neighbourhood Planning Act, as well as outlining recommendations for Government moving forward.”
Habinteg wants the Government to establish Part M (4) Cat 2 (accessible, adaptable) as the default standard for new homes country wide (as is currently the case in London), with a suitable provision of wheelchair standard homes.
It also says policy makers should review the definition of viability contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to balance the financial interest of developers and the longer term financial interests of the public purse.