Registered social housing provider, Habinteg, has branded last week’s publication of the government’s National Disability Strategy a “missed golden opportunity” for accessible housing.
Habinteg said the strategy had fallen short of establishing the building regulations accessible and adaptable’ standard as the minimum requirement for all new homes, as well as meeting a national expectation for a proportion of all homes to be built to wheelchair accessible standards.
The strategy committed the Ministry of Housing Community and Local Government to confirm plans to improve the framework to deliver accessible new homes by December 2021 and commission new research to develop statutory guidance on meeting Building Regulations covering access to and use of buildings.
Kerry Thompson, an award winning disability campaigner, wheelchair user and Habinteg tenant, said: “It’s so disappointing that the Government has missed the opportunity to make a firm joined up link between accessible homes and other key policy areas. Without accessible homes disabled people are held back from ‘levelling up’ in so many ways. It’s harder to work, to raise a family, to study or even just build relationships with neighbours and friends. These are all basic things that most non-disabled people don’t think twice about.
“The Government’s own figures show that the number of people who want to move to find somewhere more accessible is increasing. At the same time, there are 400,000 wheelchair users living in homes that are neither adapted nor designed to be accessible. It’s simply not ok that so many people are making do in unsuitable homes. If we’re serious about equality and inclusion this must change now before it’s too late.”
Nick, Apetroaie, Habinteg Chief Executive, said: “Despite the strategy setting out ambitions to tackle inequality, we believe it’s missed an opportunity to make immediate and straight forward changes to building regulations. Increasing the minimum accessibility requirements for all new homes would have made thousands more homes that are easy to adapt when needed and ensure that an adequate level of inclusive design is provided in all new developments.
“The case for change is simple and we don’t believe it’s enough to plan for more research. Every year’s delay means thousands more homes being built that are not inclusive or accessible for disabled people.”