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Housing crisis for older and disabled people set to escalate

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More than two-thirds of all new homes to be built in England over the next decade will not be fully accessible for older and disabled people, new research has found.

Analysis by Habinteg Housing Association of 324 ‘local plans’ shows the proportion of new homes to be built by 2030 to accessible standards has fallen from 34.4% in 2019 to 31.5%.

There are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, and the population is ageing rapidly. Yet, just 9% of English homes currently provide even the most basic accessibility features.

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The new report focuses on the proportion of homes required by each plan to meet either Building Regulations’ Optional Standards for accessible and adaptable homes (M4 Category 2) or wheelchair user dwellings (M4 Category 3).

Because these standards are optional, local planning authorities can decide whether or not to include them in their housing plans when building new homes. 

The report also takes into account references to the older Lifetime Homes and Wheelchair Housing Design standards.

The analysis shows that the proportion specified under the older Lifetime Homes standard has halved from 12% in 2019 to 6% in 2020. 

This means there will be just one new accessible home built in the next 10 years for every 77 people in the population, down from one for every 67 people in the 2019 analysis.

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.

Habinteg’s director of Strategy and External Affairs, Nicholas Bungay, said: “This forecast clearly shows that the system we have right now isn’t going to provide the number of accessible homes that our communities desperately need. We urge the government to establish the accessible and adaptable standard as the baseline for all new homes and set clear expectations for a proportion of new homes across the country to be wheelchair accessible.

“Disabled and older people should not have to ‘make do’ at the expense of their independence and wellbeing. If we fail to get this right now we’ll be storing up a whole new kind of housing crisis for the future.”

Tags : Accessible HousingHabinteghousing
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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