Parliament still has work to do

11 February 2015

John Punterby John Punter

With the UK general election only a few months away, Parliament has an end of term feeling, like a 14-year-old at school in July waiting for the summer holiday to come. But there are still important decisions being made and new laws that will affect your life.

Today the House of Lords is discussing the deceptively dull-titled Deregulation Bill. We’re particularly interested in the section on housing, a fundamental part of everyone’s life.

Like many laws, the Deregulation Bill is packed with detail, and every line makes a difference. Hidden away in a tiny subsection of legalese, all too easy to miss, is a dangerous proposal. In the name of ‘deregulation’ it would make it harder for councils to decide the type of housing built in their areas. Less regulation for business would mean more regulation for councils. But why does this matter?

Councils can use their planning powers to make developers build homes suitable for disabled and older people. These ‘Lifetime Homes’ look like any other, but they can be easily adapted to suit you if your mobility is reduced.

If this law passes as it stands, it will be harder for councils to demand Lifetime Homes. It will mean fewer disabled-friendly homes and more people trapped, like Sue, in an unsuitable house. Sue can’t go upstairs in her own home and has to wash at her kitchen sink.

We’re hoping the government either removes this unnecessary part — or at least commits to ensuring councils can get on with what they do best: serving local people.

This is an important end of term test. Will the government see sense and keep councils free to demand the housing we need for now and the future?

Keep up the pressure for disabled-friendly homes. Sign Sue’s petition now.

John Punter is Leonard Cheshire Disability's Public Affairs Manager.

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