Published: 14 Dec 2016
A major new inquiry starting today will investigate the chronic lack of accessible and adaptable housing available for disabled people in Britain.
Following research which found that approximately 1.8 million disabled people require suitable housing and approximately 300,000 do not have the adaptations they need in their existing homes, the Equality and Human Right Commission will investigate the provision of accessible and adaptable housing, and the effect it has on disabled people’s right to live independently.
The terms of reference for the inquiry have been published today, while calls for evidence will begin in early January. The inquiry will report in early 2018.
Securing accessible housing and associated support is the foundation of independence for many disabled people, without which it is much harder to access employment, education, leisure and recreational opportunities often taken for granted by non-disabled people.
Equally, tenancy support and advice, such as help with budgeting, can be vital to ensure people are able to stay in their rented homes. These services are particularly important for some groups, such as people with learning disabilities. Reductions in funding for housing providers may mean these necessary services are taken away, risking more failed tenancies.
Equality and Human Rights Commission Chair David Isaac said:
“Living independently is one of the most important issues for disabled people across the UK, yet only a small percentage of local authorities have policies to deliver and monitor the number of accessible homes being built.
“We are using our unique legal powers to hold this inquiry into the chronic lack of accessible housing for disabled people as well as the many barriers faced by those who need to adapt homes to their specific needs.
“It is to society’s shame that rights of disabled people have stalled, and we need to ensure they are no longer left behind in all areas of life including housing and independent living."
The terms of reference of the inquiry have been published today, which will also examine key issues including:
- potential shortfalls in availability of housing and tenancy support services
- how local authorities and social housing providers assess the housing needs of disabled people and identify suitable properties
- how the availability and provision of accessible or adaptable housing can be increased
- the potential impact of recent and proposed changes in housing policy and law on the ability of disabled people to live independently.
Deborah Stephenson, Director of Operations at Habinteg Housing Association, said:
“We strongly welcome the establishment of this wide-ranging Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into the national shortage of accessible and easily adaptable housing in the UK.
“We know that living in an inaccessible home has a serious impact on independent living and this must surely be properly addressed if we are to have a long-term, inclusive and fair national housing policy that works for everyone.
“With an ageing population, the demand for inclusive homes will only increase. So now is the time for action. We look forward to this influential inquiry tackling the issues and making strong recommendations that will help increase the housing options for disabled people nationwide.”