More than half (52.5%) of local authorities are failing to set requirements for accessible housing standards for new homes, according to new research.
Accessible housing leader, Habinteg Housing Association’s new report, A forecast for accessible homes 2020, also found that the proportion of homes suitable for wheelchair users had stayed broadly similar with the picture outside London improving by 0.5% to reach 1.5% of all homes planned over the next decade.
Outside London, a total of 19% (362,312) of new homes are planned to meet the accessible and adaptable standard by 2030, a rise since the 2019 report (14% /289,616).
However, taking England as a whole, the proportion of all homes specified to accessible and adaptable or Lifetime Homes standard fell from 32% (776,608) in the 2019 analysis to 29% (671,381) in 2020.
Habinteg is calling on the Government to establish the M4(2) accessible and adaptable standard – as the new regulatory baseline following the recent consultation on raising accessibility standards for new homes, with the additional requirement to supply a proportion of homes meeting wheelchair user dwelling standard.
The housing provider also calls for local authorities to specifically name M4(2) and M4(3) standards in their plans with clear percentages of new homes required to meet each. It also wants to see a register of people awaiting wheelchair accessible housing and tracking information held on the number of new accessible homes built in each area.
Christine Hawkes, a wheelchair user in inaccessible housing from Blackpool, said: “My first time facing accessibility challenges came as soon as I began using a wheelchair, four years ago. Before that, I lived happily in a two-floor home which I just renovated with my husband and older children. Unfortunately, after becoming paralysed from the neck down in 2016, I haven’t been able to access the not-so newly renovated top-floor of my house. The truth is, I haven’t been able to access much of my home due to my wheelchair not fitting through the narrow doors.
“As a person who was very active before my disability, I now feel frustrated that my own home is what is holding me back from being independent; I can’t even clean or simply make some breakfast. If the government made one rule for accessible new homes across the country it would make such a difference to families like mine.”