Accessible Housing for Disabled People – how accessible is it?
As we specialise in accessible properties, the question we always get asked is “How accessible is housing for disabled people?
There are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK – one in five of the population. Yet only a staggering 7% of homes in England are accessible. This equates to four fifths of disabled people living in unsuitable homes.
In short the answer is not very accessible at all. With most properties, you can’t even get in the front door, how we’d love to see more stair and ramp entrances like these shown in our images.
With all the large high street banks headlines screaming “House prices hit all-time high in August” they revealed that average UK house prices have continued to recover during August and saw the highest monthly rise in more than 16 years. The property market is buoyant and many home owners and landlords are reaping the benefits of the much needed property boost, with sales and lettings going fast.
After being in lockdown for months and with the possibility of that happening again, never far from our minds, we have all felt the pressure of having to stay in for a long length of time and if our homes haven’t been right for us, even more so.
The most sought after properties are those with gardens and many people looking to move into greener areas. These kind of decisions and wishes are great for those of us who can have a dream list, but for many, they just want to be able to get in and around their property with ease. Not much to ask is it? Or is it?
The future of the homes being built
A lot of people say, when we’re searching for properties, it must be easier with the new builds, as they are all accessible? This is a myth. The Home Builders Federation had repeatedly objected to targets describing the proportion of new homes that should be built to the basic M4(2)** accessible housing standard and also to the stricter M4(3) standard for wheelchair-accessible properties.
The planning for the future document makes repeated references to the need for “beautiful new homes”, “beautiful places” and “beautiful buildings”, while ignoring the accessible housing crisis.
There is also no mention of wheelchair-users in the white paper, which looks only at England, even though successive Conservative Ministers have been repeatedly warned of the dire shortage of suitable wheelchair-accessible housing and as we often call it ‘The Accessible housing Crisis”!
The document talks about “tackling head on the shortage of beautiful, high quality homes and places where people want to live and work” and even highlights the importance of “our capacity to house the homeless and provide security and dignity”.
But nowhere does it mention disabled people and the need for accessible housing, and when it asks those taking part in a consultation* on the white paper for their “top three priorities for planning in your local area”, accessible housing is not included as one of the options.
This week’s changes in how the Government is responding
We were really pleased that literally this week (8 September) we now know that the Government has now launched a 12 week consultation on raising accessibility standards for new homes and we have been asked to provide evidence to them. Here are the details:
This is a major milestone as a change in policy has clearly been needed for some time and gives everyone a voice. We will be recommending that the accessible and adaptable standard set down in Building Regulations M4 (Category 2) be established as the baseline for all new homes and will promote our engagement. We will of course keep you updated on our activities and how you can help to be involved.
How Branch Properties are always responding about the need for Accessible Housing for Disabled People.
We are always searching for accessible properties for our clients and finding those which have potential to be adapted. We look past the floor plans and can potential the property is and how we can make it work with ramps, wet rooms and access – we can also manage those adaptions where required.
We are also always looking for landlords who have ground floor properties and looking to adapt them if needed, so we can offer accessible properties. We’re doing what we can, but we desperately need more properties to let out, particularly two bedroom.
Finally, we are proud to have our ‘Ultimate Guide to Finding Accessible Housing” which we co-wrote with Disability Horizons, giving all the information we can to help with the search for an accessible home.
If you are a landlord and you think your property could be accessible, please contact us to help us provide more accessible housing.
If you need accessible housing, please contact us, we can help you!