Habinteg tenant and disability campaigner, Kerry Thompson, took part in a virtual meeting with Housing Minister Chris Pincher MP, to discuss the lack of accessible housing in the UK.
The meeting was also attended by Habinteg’s CEO, Sheron Carter, its director of strategy and external affairs, Nic Bungay and Anna Dixon, CEO of Centre for Ageing Better representing the Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition.
The meeting was convened by Liz Twist MP, who was also in attendance.
Not enough accessible housing
“We really need to do something to ensure there are enough accessible and adaptable homes to meet the needs of our whole community,” said Twist. “Everyone deserves a home that they can live in independently and it’s simply not right that many disabled people across the country don’t have this. A suitable home is not a luxury.
“We’re grateful for the Housing Minister’s time today to discuss this important issue. Now we wait for the date the consultation will begin.”
During the meeting, Thompson urged the Minister to launch the public consultation on accessible housing standards: promised by the government more than one year ago.
This comes after an Insight Report by Habinteg last year revealed just 1% of homes to be built outside London by 2030 are set to be wheelchair-accessible properties.
The Minister also mentioned that the disability strategy being led by the cabinet office, will include accessible housing.
“Today’s meeting was a definite step in the right direction, and it was great to meet the Housing Minister,” she said. “He listened to my story and I could tell that he understood the importance of accessible housing for disabled people.
“I look forward to seeing what progress comes from the government following the meeting and hope to see the accessible housing standards consultation start very soon.”
Other than his pledge to include accessible housing in the disability strategy, the Housing Minister agreed to visit Thompson at her home and to view Habinteg’s new accessible properties in Leeds.
Habinteg CEO, Sheron Carter, said: “It was really useful to have Kerry in the meeting as she could share her first-hand experience to highlight the positive impact an accessible home can have.
“It was good to brief him on the Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition, a group of ten charities and housing organisations that are pushing for improvements in accessible housing policy. I hope this meeting will urge the government to take some serious action on the housing needs for our disabled population.”
Call to action
The meeting between Thompson and Pincher came about after a government report on the proportion of homes in England that are accessible and adapted for disabled and older people showed:
- 9% of homes in England have key accessibility features to deem them ‘visitable’ (an increase from 5% in 2005)
- 57% of wheelchair users are living in adapted homes
- Over 400,000 wheelchair users are living in homes neither adapted nor accessible, according to Habinteg’s estimate*
Initially commenting on the findings, Carter said: “Whilst it’s encouraging to see the proportion of homes with basic accessibility features increasing to 9% from 5% in 2005, it’s clear that the total proportion of homes which are accessible is still woefully inadequate.
“That’s why the government must change the regulation to ensure all new homes being built are accessible for older and disabled people.”
Thompson also commented on the initial findings, saying: “Living in an accessible home myself, I know first-hand how vital they are for a disabled person like me.
“Accessible and adapted homes help alleviate pressures on health and social care services and budgets.
“They enable greater independence at home and speed up hospital discharges. This is crucial at a time when our NHS and Social Care provision is already under enormous strain.
“I hope this new data urges the government to launch a new consultation into accessible housing standards.”
The full English Housing Survey 2018: accessibility of English homes was published on 9 July.