‘No place like home’ – 300,000 disabled people on housing waiting lists this Christmas in council scandal

  • Up to 300,000 disabled people will spend Christmas trapped in unsuitable homesLeonard Cheshire Disability logo
  • 84 per cent of councils have no idea how many wheelchair-friendly homes are in their area
  • Disabled people being failed by Government and house builders

Leading UK charity Leonard Cheshire Disability has revealed that 300,000 disabled people will spend this Christmas trapped in unsuitable homes in a new report published today, as part of its Home Truths campaign.

The charity’s report No Place Like Home, launched at a parliamentary event, found that an overwhelming 84 per cent of councils have no information about wheelchair accessible housing in their area – effectively leaving disabled people languishing on housing waiting lists and 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 and 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.”

The charity also found that of the councils with a housing plan in place, only 38 (fewer than 17 per cent) have set out plans to build ‘disabled-friendly’ homes in 2015, offering little hope to thousands of disabled people stuck in desperate situations.

David Househam is a seven year-old boy from Boston, Lincolnshire with 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.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability believes Government and housing developers are failing disabled and older people, and wants the Government to make it mandatory for developers to include ‘disabled-friendly’ homes in their plans. The No Place Like Home report outlined how the top ten developers could build all new homes to be disabled-friendly and still maintain profits of £1.3 billion a year.

Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said:

“While the 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 in 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 ate their Christmas lunch.

“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 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.”

As part of its Home Truths campaign, Leonard Cheshire Disability is calling on Government to ensure housing developers factor in ‘disabled-friendly’ by building all new homes so they are easy to adapt (known as Lifetime Homes) if people become disabled. The charity also wants 10 per cent 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.

About Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries. With over 7,500 staff, the charity supports over 7,000 disabled people in the UK. Visit: www.leonardcheshire.org

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