Disability News: Calls for better housing laws

UK housing laws must be strengthened to ensure that new builds are suitable for Disabled people. The latest calls come in a letter to The Daily Telegraph from charity chiefs, including Disability Rights UK CEO Kamran Mallick, as well as architects.

The letter calls on Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to toughen up regulations on accessibility standards for new homes.

At the moment, new build houses must fulfil four accessibility criteria: they must have level access to a main entrance, doorways and circulation spaces must be wide enough, there must be a toilet at entrance level, and there must be a flush threshold offering easy entry to the property.

70% of new builds won’t have to meet accessible standards. A fifth of the population is Disabled.

The letter reads:

Sir,

We desperately need to reverse the trend of building homes that are unfit for older and disabled people to live in.

Our country’s need for accessible homes is urgent and growing all the time.

Habinteg’s new analysis of ‘Local Plans’ reveals that 70% of all new homes built in England over the next 10 years aren’t required to meet any ‘accessible’ housing standard. So, just one accessible home will be built for every 77 people. This is despite the fact that we have an ageing population and already one in five of us is disabled.

The government is currently considering raising accessibility standards for new homes. The time is right to change regulations, so we get the homes we so urgently need now and in the future. As it stands, 91% of existing homes do not provide even the most basic features that make a house ‘visitable’, never mind accessible or adaptable.  These changes are widely supported across the housing, charitable and disability sectors, as well as by home builders and local government. We urge the Housing Minister to strengthen the mandatory accessibility standards without delay.

Signed

Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) Coalition:

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of Centre for Ageing Better

Bryonie Shaw, Interim Chief Executive of Habinteg Housing

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK

Sue Adams, Chief Executive of Care & Repair England

Gavin Smart, Chief Executive of Chartered Institute of Housing

Kamran Mallick, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK

Jeremy Porteus, Chief Executive of Housing Learning & Improvement Network

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of National Housing Federation

Alan M Jones, President of Royal Institute of British Architects

Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of Town and Country Planning Association

Robert Jenrick said the housing consultation would look at “bold options to ensure more new homes are built to higher accessibility standards and with the features needed to give people the dignity and security they deserve in their homes”.