‘No Place Like Home’ — the scandal of 300,000 disabled people on housing waiting lists
1 December 2014
Our new report launched today reveals that 300,000 disabled people will spend this Christmas trapped in unsuitable homes.
No Place Like Home, part of our Home Truths campaign, found that an overwhelming 84% of councils have no information about wheelchair accessible housing. This is leaving disabled people on housing waiting lists living in severe discomfort.
Wheelchair user Carlene Evans, 33, from Bolton, Greater Manchester was born with cerebral palsy. She is unable to use her own front door, cook in her kitchen or go to the toilet without help, and has been waiting for a suitable home for eight years.
‘I was given the option of my current home or nothing. Housing opportunities for disabled people are very limited and have been for a long time. There’s a massive lack of choice.
With the right house, I could be independent and wouldn’t need so much help from care workers. But there are no disabled-friendly homes for me to move to — despite the extra costs this causes the council in social care.’
Councils aren't planning to build disabled-friendly homes
Our report also found that, of the councils with a housing plan in place, less than 17% have set out plans to build disabled-friendly homes in 2015. This offers little hope to the thousands of disabled people stuck in desperate situations.
These include David Househam, a seven-year-old boy from Boston, Lincolnshire. He has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition that affects the muscles and causes immobility.
David’s father Nigel said, ‘David’s condition changes weekly. He struggles up the stairs, and soon simple things like going to the toilet or having a bath will be difficult without hoists and other special equipment. We’re currently on a waiting list but being told there is nowhere else to go.’
‘There is no provision for families like us. We are angry, upset and stressed most of the time. David has told us that all he wants for Christmas is a better home.’
Disabled-friendly homes should be mandatory
The government and housing developers are failing disabled and older people. We want the government to make it mandatory for developers to include disabled-friendly homes in their plans. The No Place Like Home report outlines how the top 10 developers could build all new homes to be disabled-friendly and still maintain profits of £1.3 billion a year.
Clare Pelham, our chief executive, said, ‘While most of us will spend Christmas Day visiting friends and family and sharing food with our loved ones, thousands of disabled people will be unable to get in the door to visit the people they love.
’Even worse, many face the reality of having to wash at the same kitchen sinks where they peel their Brussels sprouts because they can’t get upstairs to their bathrooms, or having to use commodes in the same dining rooms where they eat their Christmas lunches.’
‘Councillors need to show some understanding about what this feels like — and take steps to ensure houses in their area are suitable for all the people who live there, including disabled people. And the national government needs to insist that all housing developers make future homes disabled-friendly. It’s the very least they can do as a Christmas present for disabled people.’
In support of the Home Truths campaign, David Pearson, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said:
‘Having appropriate housing is an essential part of any future provision. This includes housing which is appropriate to the needs of disabled adults and older people. It helps to keep people independent, avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and the need for residential care.
‘It’s crucial that all councils consider the impact of inappropriate housing on people’s need for care, as some are starting to do. With the immense pressure on budgets caused by reduced resources and increasing needs every local area needs clear plans for making housing more appropriate. It is better for people and the public purse.’
We're calling on the government to ensure all new homes are built to Lifetime Homes standards, so they are easy to adapt if people become disabled. We also want 10% of large developments to be fully wheelchair accessible so that disabled people can live independently and are able to pursue job opportunities across the country.