New coalition launches urging Government to tackle “dire” lack of suitable housing for older and disabled people
Ten organisations from across the housing and charity sectors are warning of a crisis in the provision of suitable housing for older and disabled people as they launch a new coalition to campaign for accessible homes.
As parliament dissolves ahead of a general election, Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) has published an open letter calling on the next UK government to take greater action to secure housing suitable for all.
The ten high-profile organisations forming the HoME coalition are: Habinteg Housing, Centre for Ageing Better, Age UK, RIBA, Care and Repair England, Disability Rights UK, Housing LIN, National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute of Housing and the TCPA.
Previous commitments to consult on the mandatory building regulations for new homes have not been acted on. In light of this, the HoME coalition is calling on the next government to urgently consult to ensure that all new homes are built to incorporate basic accessibility features and can be easily adapted to meet further requirements.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, which co-chairs the coalition, said: “Too many people are today living in homes that limit their independence, as we face a dangerous shortage of homes that are accessible and adaptable. Whilst it’s not inevitable, the likelihood is that most of us will experience disability or difficulties with activities of daily living at some point in our later life. And with more of us living for longer, this dire lack of accessible homes represents a ticking timebomb.
“Urgent action is needed to ensure we are building homes fit for the future, so that more of us are able to stay in our homes for longer and remain safe and independent.
“As we build the homes of tomorrow, it’s crucial that every brick laid today is part of the solution. Central government, local authorities and developers all have a role to play in ensuring that the homes of tomorrow are safe, well-designed and flexible.”
The newly-formed coalition follows recent research by Habinteg revealing that less than half of local housebuilding plans in England included provision for accessible homes. By 2030, projected figures suggest that there will be just one new accessible home built for every 15 people over the age of 65.
Sheron Carter, Chief Executive at Habinteg, which co-chairs the coalition, commented: “Recent research by Habinteg reveals that most people in Britain are not able to welcome a wheelchair user into their home due to poor access. This is the limiting reality of our current housing stock. So with increasing rates of disability and an ageing population it’s critical that new homes are built to standards that provide greater accessibility and adaptability. Unless we do this we’ll be running into a whole new type of housing crisis in the years to come.
“We’re heartened to see so many high profile organisations joining forces to press for change on such a crucial issue. We can and should be building homes to be inclusive of all.”
To address the lack of accessible housing, the HoME coalition has launched a seven-step charter to transform new housing, including recommendations for central and local government, estate agents, and developers.
The steps include a higher regulatory baseline for accessibility of all new homes; better data on the availability of accessible homes; and bold policies on planning for accessible housing from Local Authorities. All of these steps will help ensure all new homes have basic accessibility features to make them suitable for a range of occupants and can be easily adapted to meet further needs.
The UK’s accessible housing “crisis” has been making constant headlines over the last year, with various organisations calling on the Government to tackle the situation.
In June 2019, Habinteg’s research unveiled that a shocking one percent of homes outside London are set to be suitable for wheelchair users, despite 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK and a rapidly ageing population.
Additionally, in September 2019, the Housing and Ageing Alliance launched a new manifesto which called for the UK Government to make Building Regulations standard M4 (2) the default for all new homes.
M4(2) category homes are accessible and adaptable, and the new HoME coalition also believes that the Government should set a higher regulatory baseline for M4(2) dwellings.