Unions call for urgent action on accessible housing

April 16th 2019

Robert Mooney, from STUC’s Disabled Workers Committee said,

“At STUC Congress today, we passed a motion calling for urgent action to improve access to accessible housing for disabled people. I am glad that we can support Inclusion Scotland’s work on accessible homes. It is a disgrace that, for many disabled people, their right to independent living is not being met and one major reason for this is a lack of affordable, accessible housing. Some people have gone into hospital and are then stuck there because accessible accommodation can’t be found for them or their current home isn’t adjusted.

'This chronic shortage, exacerbated by years of austerity and budget cuts, has to end. The STUC is committed to working alongside other organisations to ensure that the homes of our future are fit for everyone.”

Susie Fitton, Policy Officer for Inclusion Scotland said,

“We are delighted to see this motion from the STUC. Disabled people have a right to adequate and accessible housing yet thousands are living in homes across Scotland where they cannot wash themselves, use the toilet, cook and prepare meals in a kitchen, or get in and out of the house without considerable support.

"However despite the now well-documented shortfall in the supply of accessible housing we are simply not building or adapting enough homes in Scotland for disabled people, particularly wheelchair users. Over 17,000 wheelchair users are living in unsuitable homes across Scotland and this unmet need is set to increase by 80% by 2024. However between 2008 and 2016, 132,994 new homes were built in Scotland, yet only 1,427 were built to wheelchair accessible standards.

"This is simply unacceptable. Being unable to buy or rent an accessible home can literally imprison disabled people - in their own homes, in hospital, or in residential care against their will. This leads to poor heath, intolerable stress for families and the need for additional social care support. Disabled people living in inaccessible houses are also four times less likely to be in employment.

"Inclusion Scotland had called for a national 10% target for wheelchair accessible homes as a first step to addressing some of these issue. The Scottish Government have instead recently issued guidance to Local Authorities to help them set local targets for the development of wheelchair accessible homes across all tenures.

"Given that currently only 17% of local authorities have targets in this regard we look forward to seeing every local authority in Scotland setting ambitious targets for wheelchair accessible housing, higher than 10% where this is needed.

"But more needs to be done. We know that our design standards for social and private housing are out of date and do not always provide the space standards that disabled people need, our system of funding and providing adaptations is failing and disabled people who want to buy accessible home in Scotland can find this virtually impossible. We need a strategic approach to tackling these issues across tenure and we have no time to lose."

ENDS

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