- A poll has found 75 per cent of people in Britain say their houses do not have a ‘disabled-friendly’ front door
- House of Lords to debate Bill that would make it harder for councils to insist that new homes are accessible
- Leonard Cheshire Disability is campaigning for ‘disabled-friendly’ housing and is urging the Government to act
A leading UK charity says disabled people are being ‘left out in the cold’ because they can’t get in through the front door of most UK homes.
A survey by Leonard Cheshire Disability has found that three quarters of the people in Great Britain say their houses do not have an accessible front door (ie. a door which has a ramp, or step-free access). By region, London leads the way with 64 per cent, in contrast, the East Midlands is bottom of the list with 81 per cent of people reporting they have inaccessible front doors. The finding comes at the same time as the Government prepares to make it harder for local authorities to insist that developers build ‘disabled-friendly’ housing.
As part of its research, Leonard Cheshire Disability also found that most British homes do not have a bathroom large enough to fit a wheelchair into (65 per cent).
Wheelchair user and planning consultant Philip Barton, from Merseyside, said: “It took me two years of misery to find a house that I could actually get in and out of. I’ve recently tried to move to a different area of the country where I had been offered a different job, but there were no houses that I could live in comfortably – so I had to turn down the job.
“We need to build more disabled-friendly homes now so that disabled people can progress in their careers and move around the country like anyone else.”
Wheelchair user Carlene Evans, from Greater Manchester, said: “Not being able to get into the homes of my family and friends is really upsetting. It means I’m shut out of social occasions of all sorts. What’s even worse is that I can’t get in through my own front door.
“My husband and I feel trapped because we can’t find a suitable home to move to either – the door to disabled-friendly housing is slammed shut for us, as it must be for millions in our situation. I don’t understand why the Government is planning to make it harder for councils to increase the number of ‘disabled-friendly’ homes”
Leonard Cheshire Disability is urging the Government to reject proposals under the Deregulation Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords, to make it harder for councils to insist that developers build adaptable homes, and, in a separate proposal, to prevent them entirely from making sure private developers build wheelchair-accessible housing.
Clare Pelham, Leonard Cheshire Disability Chief Executive, said: “It is simply wrong that thousands of disabled people are ending up trapped all day in homes that are completely unsuitable for them. That makes for a miserable and lonely life for many disabled and older people. And it costs the taxpayer money. Many disabled people are unable to move house and get a job because there aren’t enough ‘disabled-friendly’ properties. Other older and disabled people could live independently in a properly-adapted home but are forced into residential care. Government should be making laws that increase the number of accessible homes, not reduce them. The shortage will only get worse as more and more of us live longer and need support to maintain our independence.
“Any one of us could become disabled at any time – in a car accident, from a stroke, or as a soldier in conflict.
“Let’s hope that the Government amends the Deregulation Bill later this month so all new build homes can be easily adapted for disabled people. We need to increase the number of ‘disabled-friendly’ homes now, so that all of us can live independently in the future.”
Leonard Cheshire is calling for all new homes to be built so they are easy to adapt (known as Lifetime Homes) if people become disabled, as part of its Home Truths campaign. They also want 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