Disabled people face ‘hidden crisis’ in accessible housing
Summary: Disabled people have been left “demoralised and frustrated” by the housing system and face a “chronic shortage” of accessible homes, according to a new report by the equality and human rights watchdog.
More than 350,000 disabled people in England have unmet housing needs, with one-third of those in rented accommodation living in unsuitable properties, says the report.
There are also about 17,000 wheelchair-users in Scotland with unmet housing needs, while there is “a severe shortage” of accessible and wheelchair-accessible housing in Wales.
Despite this, fewer than one in four local authorities (22 per cent) have an accessible housing register, while only 28 per cent have a target for accessible housing.
The report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) follows an 18-month formal inquiry and calls on the government to draw up a national strategy to ensure an adequate supply of new homes built to inclusive design standards.
The report – Housing and disabled people: Britain’s hidden crisis – also says there is “unacceptable bureaucracy and delay” in the system of installing home adaptations.
EHRC published separate reports on the crisis in housing for disabled people in both Scotland and Wales.
The report on Britain warns of “insufficient attention given to those currently in residential care who wish to live independently and could do so with the right support”.
And it says that provision of advice, support and advocacy is “patchy”, with disabled people reporting that they have nowhere to turn when in crisis or when their housing is unsuitable, while navigating the complex systems for allocating housing and securing adaptations is “stressful and challenging”.
It concludes: “Progress to ensure that disabled people have accessible homes that support their right to independent living is unlikely to be made unless disabled people are actively engaged in shaping housing policy and practice.”
And it adds: “The human and economic costs of inaccessible housing can be avoided if disabled people’s requirements are identified and built into planning and delivery of new housing supply.”
The inquiry heard accounts of disabled people eating, sleeping and bathing in one room, and of having to be carried around their inaccessible homes by relatives.
One disabled person who contributed to the inquiry said they had not been outside their second-floor flat since 2011 – apart from essential hospital trips – because there was no lift and the flat was not wheelchair-accessible.
A second respondent to the inquiry’s call for evidence described how they were unable to access their children’s room and other parts of the house and could not use their wheelchair because their home was so inaccessible.
And one disabled respondent said: “I have been on my local authority [housing]list for seven years, but there has never been a suitable property available in that time.
“So for the past two years I have been reduced to having my hair washed in a bowl while sat on my toilet.”
The report says that while more than two-thirds of local authorities say that developers do not always comply with accessibility requirements, only seven local authorities (three per cent) have taken action against a developer in the last three years.
In addition to the demand for a national strategy, the report calls on the UK government to produce mandatory planning guidance for local authorities on assessing need and delivering accessible and adaptable housing, and wheelchair-accessible housing.
And it says the government should amend building regulations so that the optional M4(2) accessibility standard – a series of design criteria intended to make homes more easily adaptable for lifetime use – is instead a mandatory minimum standard for all new housing.
Government figures show this would increase construction costs by just £1,100 per home.
It also says the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments should all require local authorities to ensure a minimum of 10 per cent of new-build homes are built to higher wheelchair-accessible standards.
And it says the three governments should provide funding to disabled people’s organisations and advice agencies so they can increase provision of independent advice and information on housing.
The report welcomes the UK government’s decision to increase funding for disabled facilities grants (DFGs) from £220 million in 2015-16 to £505 million in 2019-20 and incorporate the funding into a joint health and social care budget, the Better Care Fund, with the aim of doubling the number of grants to 85,000 by 2020.
DFGs provide funding to make disabled people’s homes more accessible, for example by widening doorways, installing ramps or providing a downstairs bathroom.
But the report adds: “The increase in funding is an important step, but we heard evidence that the slow and cumbersome nature of the DFG process often leads to people spending extended periods in hospital beyond their discharge date or being discharged into unsuitable accommodation.”
EHRC says its findings “raise alarming concerns that disabled people’s right to independent living is being heavily restricted by unsuitable and unsafe housing”.
The findings mirror those of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD), which highlighted concerns last August about possible breaches in Britain of both article nine (on accessibility) and article 19 (on independent living) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
CRPD warned that austerity measures had “hindered the advancement of accessibility” and raised concerns about “the reduction in social protection schemes related to housing, household income and budgets for independent living”.
Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “This research shows some of the fundamental issues we face on a day-to-day basis.
“Appropriate housing is key to independent living and creating choice and control for disabled people.
“But it’s also better for the tax payer. Better housing options mean disabled people are less likely to seek support from hard-pressed health and social care providers.
“The same is true if we develop ways to ensure the swift provision of aids and adaptations when people become disabled.
“We need clear standards for developers and designers so we begin to see the establishment of more lifetime homes; and better policing and support for private landlords, who have a huge slice of the rental market.”
Heather Fisken, manager of Independent Living in Scotland, which is part of Inclusion Scotland, said: “This is indeed a hidden crisis. Disabled people living in unsuitable housing are denied their human rights to participate in and contribute to their communities.
“Living in inaccessible housing can mean not getting outside at all or only rarely, or even being forced to move to a care home.
“The EHRC’s recommendations echo Inclusion Scotland’s own report Our Place, Our Space which called on Scottish government to introduce a national target for new build houses built to wheelchair accessible standards, and for a new accessible housing design standard.
“Without urgent policy change and investment, the situation is set to get worse as the population ages and housing stocks depreciate.”
Disability Wales also welcomed the reports and called for “urgent action”.
A Disability Wales spokesperson said: “There are far too many examples where disabled people are unable to move around their own home due to its inaccessibility.
“This is having a huge impact on disabled people’s health and well-being, their ability to engage in community life and access employment.
“Having a suitable place to live is a basic need and a human right.”
The EHRC reports come less than two months after the government rejected a series of recommendations made by the Commons women and equalities committee, following its inquiry on disability and the built environment.
Maria Miller, the Tory MP who chairs that committee, said the government’s decision to reject those recommendations had left disabled people to face “unacceptable barriers to independent living, often making them feel isolated and forgotten”.
She said: “I welcome the findings of this inquiry and hope that it will act as another much-needed wake up call for ministers.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government said: “We realise many disabled people can face a variety of obstacles in their daily lives, but we’re clear that their homes should not be one of these.
“That’s why we’re providing councils with almost £1 billion over the next two years to adapt properties for disabled people so they can live independently and safely.
“Our planning rules make clear councils must take the needs of elderly and disabled people into account when planning new homes in their area.”
Source: Disability News Service
Other recent news items:
- Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word
- Disability Politics UK: call to prioritise step free access
- Children with disabilities: targeted violence and hostility
- Dementia care: how social enterprises are developing products and services
- Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know
- The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
- DWP told to publish ESA deaths report, after two-year delay
- The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome
- PIP Delay Crisis Over, Claims DWP
- Meet Justin Tomlinson MP- New Minister For Disabled People
- A quick guide to new care minister Alistair Burt
- How to use your disability as a strength when applying for jobs
- Devastating impact of cuts on disabled people
- NHS ‘has wasted more than a year’ on latest bid to improve wheelchair services
- Five Thousand Disabled Adults Sexually Abused In Last 2 Years Says NSPCC
- ESA Claimant Takes On Maximus And Wins
- One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions, admits DWP
- Manchester United tell family with disabled son to watch Stockport instead
- Joint mental health commissioning strategy
- New parliament sees number of disabled MPs plunge
- Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
- Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’
- 'It's a great honour': Selby appoints UK's first mayor with learning disabilities
- Voluntary Community Social Enterprise Review website
- Cameron downgrades minister for disabled people
- Poor UK cancer survival rates linked to lack of GP direct access to scans
- Charity highlights role of siblings in supporting adults with a disability
- Queen’s Speech fails to mention social care funding
- Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
- TV industry must improve representation of disabled people
- The bionic suit helping wheelchair users get back on their feet
- New project to tackle mental health issues
- Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
- Schools 'must improve support for diabetic children'
- National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability
- Rise in mental health bed occupancy
- Watchdog writes to Man Utd after stewards confiscate walking aids from fans
- Government cuts ‘could see disabled people slide back to the bad old days’
- Disabled payment delay unlawful, judge rules
- The 'dragons' who want to help disabled people start their own business
- Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him 'severely disabled' by narcolepsy
- DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths
- Man who cannot walk or talk called for jobcentre 'back to work' interview
- UK woman can ride bike for first time with 'world's most lifelike bionic hand'
- GPs to refer more patients with low-risk cancer symptoms under new NICE guidance
- Disability campaigners clash with police inside parliament over benefit cuts
- Indefinite Award DLA Transfer To PIP Will Start From July In Certain Postcodes
- Disabled children less happy with hospital care than peers
- ILF closure: Process has caused ‘fear, stress and anxiety’, say researchers
- Disability poverty rose sharply in fourth year of coalition
- UK services failing patients with dementia
- Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill
- Disabled people's rights threatened by government cuts, campaigners warn
- BBC Three’s ‘Defying The Label’ Season
- From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP
- Mental health patients sent hundreds of miles for beds as out of area placements rise 23 per cent
- Systematic over-medication blights learning disability care
- The Superhumans return to Channel 4
- Accessible Information Standard Approved
- Doctors demand return of lung cancer awareness campaign
- David O’Mar, 58, Found Fit For Work Two Weeks Before His Death
- World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions
- Seven-day NHS to include child mental health services, minister confirms
- Court hears appeal on ‘unfair’ PIP 20 metre rule consultation
- New report by Business Disability Forum cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees
- Tanni says 10,000 signatures could finally transform wheelchair services
- BBC3 presenter and journalist crowdfunding to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana
- Disabled voters take pioneering legal action over election access
- Has disability sport lost its London 2012 Paralympics momentum?
- NHS Announce New Care Guidelines For Learning Disabilities
- Fresh evidence that ‘benefit scrounger rhetoric’ is causing hate crime
- Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’ Says DWP
- Clubs “Neglecting Responsibility” To Disabled Fans
- Latest Figures Show Massive Rise In ESA Sanctions
- ‘Bizarre’ figures raise fears over ministers’ plans for ESA
- School nurses ‘need better mental health training’
- Number of people developing dementia 'stabilising'
- Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures
- Iain Duncan Smith criticises employers over disability employment gap
- Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year
- Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
- Goths at risk of depression or self-harming, research says
- Elderly 'ripped off' in mobility scooter market
- GPs are missing cancer in children - because they 'don't have enough training'
- IDS announces 'fitness for work' U-turn that was five years in the making
- People with autism and learning disabilities excel in creative thinking, study shows
- Starbucks apologises for telling woman she was not 'disabled enough' to use the toilet
- DLA Lifetime Award PIP Transition Started from 1 September in 29 New Areas
- Successful 'Fit for Work' Appeals at Highest Ever Level, Show DWP Stats
- Why is our justice system failing vulnerable people?
- UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- Coroners 'ground breaking' verdict: Suicide was 'triggered' by 'fit for work' test
- Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books
- The quadruple amputee who needs the correct prosthetic
- Welfare to work programme failing disabled and ill jobseekers, say charities
- Disabled fans 'delighted' as Premier League finally acts on access
- Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
- Independent Living Fund: Government silence 'suggests something to hide'
- UK employers report rise in mental health problems: CIPD study
- UN inquiry considers alleged UK disability rights violations
- Parliament's own disability group picks first non-disabled chair in nearly 50 years
- Dementia drug 'keeps patients out of nursing homes'
- Disability benefit cuts will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work,coalition of 60 charities warns
- Problems with the care and treatment provided by the NHS and/or difficulties in accessing health services?
- Consultation on the proposed new adult social care strategy
- The Leicestershire Advice Service for Social Care is here to guide you
- Minister: MPs must help 'open doors' for disabled jobseekers
- 'Homes not hospitals': learning disability care to move to community
- Equality Act 'simply isn't strong enough' for BSL-users, peers are told
- Disability Hate Crimes Rise 41% In A Year
- Companies fear employing people with learning disabilities, survey reveals
- DWP cuts specialist disability employment advisors in jobcentres by over 60 per cent
- Watchdog 'must do more to support disabled people to fight discrimination'
- ‘We must keep banging the drum,’ says bus campaigner after five-year fight for justice
- 2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months
- Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'
- Rock band with learning disabilities release first single
- NICE seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy
- Premier League clubs face legal threat unless disabled access is improved
- UK’s progress on disability rights ‘patchy and tortuous’, UN told
- Peer pressure sees minister finally announce date for taxi access laws
- Stop the NHS slashing vulnerable people’s care packages in and around Leicestershire
- Minister tells industries to increase representation of disabled people
- Disabled children in England 'finding it increasingly hard to access council care'
- Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal
- Plans that could force people into institutions could be ‘front line’ of national problem
- Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help
- Disability benefits process is 'inherently flawed', MPs told
- Businesses woefully ill-equipped to deal with Britain's rapidly growing mental health crisis
- Cash boost for pupils with special needs and disability
- PIP investigation: ‘Horrific’ suicide question sparks fresh assessment inquiry calls
- Disability report: Being disabled in Britain
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say
- Patients with learning disabilities missing out on health checks
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away
- Aspire announces GLL and LCiL as first partners to lead InstructAbility
- Easy read guide to voting by post
- Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
- Health Committee inquiry and report: Brexit and Health and Social Care – People and Process
- Women’s Resource Centre report: the Impact of Austerity Measures on Women’s Voluntary and Community Organisations
- Disabled people ‘forced into dangerous workfare that breaches health and safety laws’
- Mental Health Foundation report: Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK’s Mental Health
- Stirling University to launch home dementia app
- General Election 2017: What are the parties promising disabled people?
- Anger, resignation… and optimism in wake of general election result
- New disabled MPs pledge to fight for rights in parliament
- Queen’s speech: May ‘abandons’ election pledge on access
- The waiting time for a vital disability benefit has risen hugely in 6 months
- Almost 6,000 mental health patients sent out of area for care last year
- Patients increasingly forced to crowdfund their own wheelchairs as NHS provision not enough, doctors warn
- Years of austerity have left personal assistance in ‘very fragile state’
- Over Half Of Foodbank Users Are Households With A Disabled Person
- Prince Harry launches brain injury card in Suffolk
- Iain Duncan Smith says work capability assessments don't work and are 'too harsh'
- PIP investigation: 200 cases of dishonesty… and still DWP, Atos and Capita refuse to act
- Global blindness set to 'triple by 2050'
- My disability abortion bill could halt Britain’s slide towards eugenics, says Tory peer
- Jobcentre Staff Have An Alarming Lack Of Confidence Dealing With Disabled Claimants
- BBC initiative for disabled actors is a ‘wake-up call’ for producers
- Bus industry set to face fresh legal action over access to wheelchair space
- Government accused of breaching UN convention in its treatment of disabled people
- Theresa May admits UK mental health services are 'patchy'
- 2,000 children with learning disabilities left without a school
- UK faces UN examination: Government cuts caused ‘human catastrophe’
- Half of parents of disabled children forced to reduce working hours due to 'unlawful' cuts to school transport
- Summit meeting will aim to bring movement together on independent living
- Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia?
- Quarter of 14-year-old girls 'have signs of depression'
- Council’s review finds PIP ‘not fit for purpose’
- Epilepsy medication impact not shared
- What is universal credit - and what's the problem?
- Calls for Amazon to ban 'anorexia hoodie'
- Green man crossings 'too fast' for people with arthritis
- Mental health patients being failed as services face 'potent mix' of workforce cuts and rising demand, shows report
- Universal Credit helpline charges scrapped
- Hate crimes against disabled children rise 150 per cent in two years
- Modelling debut for boy, 11, with Down's syndrome
- Wheelchair access at Premier League grounds improved after campaigning
- Mental health sees 300,000 people leave their jobs each year
- Care Quality Commission report: Annual State of Health Care and Adult Social Care in England 2016/17
- Access to Work: ‘Scheme’s future in jeopardy through cuts and incompetence’
- Tailored treatment study aims to improve prostate cancer care
- Government admits disabled people have been receiving too little financial support from DWP
- Disabled people worry about telling employers of their condition
- Disabled woman takes DWP minister to court over PIP mental health changes
- Women and disabled people hit hardest by years of austerity, report confirms
- New year’s honours recognise campaigners, inventor and Paralympians
- Esther McVey makes disability benefits U-turn over payments
- Educational support for deaf children in England 'in complete disarray'
- Blue badge scheme could be extended to cover autism and dementia
- More than 220,000 people scored zero on disability benefits test
- MPs launch inquiry into online abuse of disabled people, following Katie Price petition
- Open letter from mental health activists probes charity’s links to DWP
- UK sick pay is found to breach international legal obligations
- Psychosis patients 'not getting best care'
- DWP promises no-one will lose out in huge review of 1.6 million PIP cases
- Majority of disability benefit claimants being left with not enough to live on, campaigners warn
- Suffragettes needed? The women still struggling to vote
- New 'miracle jab' promises to ease arthritis pain - and save the NHS billions too
- Antipsychotic drug found to relieve symptoms suffered by millions of people with Alzheimer's disease
- Government’s suicide prevention boss refuses to call for action on ESA risk stats
- Disabled peer raises ‘deep concerns’ over impact of Brexit bill on rights
- PIP assessments: 'Lack of trust' in benefits systems
- Anti-depressants: Major study finds they work
- More than a million benefits sanctions imposed on disabled people since 2010
- Thefts of disabled blue badge parking permits quadruple in England
- High Court rules Tories' disability benefit changes ‘blatantly discriminate’ against mental health patients
- Echolocation could help blind people learn to navigate like bats
- Call for government to ditch ‘discriminatory’ PIP rules for NHS care home stays
- Mystery over shock fall in disability benefits paid to older people
- Disabled passengers' champion unveiled
- Wheelchair users in UK to be given enhanced rights for bus travel
- Spring statement ‘shows disabled people will continue to bear brunt of austerity’
- House of Commons could replace benches with fold-down seats to improve access for disabled MPs
- NHS must prepare for `huge´ demand for new Alzheimer´s drugs, experts warn
- Access to work: Funding increase for disabled workers
- Doctors hope for blindness cure after restoring patients' sight
- New initiative to address ticketing barriers for deaf and disabled fans
- NICE: 'Care providers must ask people with LD what they want out of life'
- Disabled people struggle to afford food and heating, study says
- Government faces legal action over election access fund
- Disability-led ensemble to play BBC Proms
- Women across UK denied mental healthcare around childbirth, say doctors
- Robot helps Jack McLinden, 14, to be Everton mascot
- Cystic fibrosis: Company urged to lower cost of life-changing drug
- Disabled people split over personal health budget expansion plans
- Benefits applications forms to be made more accessible
- Government response to damning inquiry into disability benefit system 'falls short', say MPs
- EHRC appoints eight disabled people to advisory committee
- Sharp rise under-11s referred for mental health help
- Feel the beat: deaf fans fight for access to live music
- Health and Social Care Committee report: The Government’s Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation
- Disabled people face ‘hidden crisis’ in accessible housing
- Equality watchdog ‘considering legal action against government’ over rail access failures
- TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference: ‘Critically-flawed universal credit must be scrapped’
- Call for national research as fears grow over loss of DPOs