As you would have seen in the news reports over the last week it’s suddenly dawned on the able-bodied world that there is a massive shortage in suitable housing for disabled people. Unfortunately this isn’t as much of a surprise to us that are disabled we have known this for years.
It’s been called the hidden crisis and our lives are to expensive in the news, why is it such a secret!? who knows’ when you have programmes such as DIY SOS on BBC 1 that have been clearly showing for year just how unsuitable and unaccessible some people’s properties can be.
And no it’s not cheap to be disabled who ever thinks or thought it was YOUR CRAZY!. For example when I changed my toilet to make my life more independent that was over £3000 and that just for a toilet so no it’s not cheap!!
The unfortunate truth is councils will tell you even if you are disabled if your under the age of 65 you don’t fit “OUR” criteria needs to get a bungalow, this needs to change sooner rather than later, why as a Disabled person do you need to be over 65 to get a bungalow!?
I faced this exact problem over 9 years ago, for 3 years solid I was constantly being told I was too young for a bungalow, I called Milton Keynes council persistently every week from 3 years telling them my flat was unsuitable for my needs, unable to use my wheelchair inside to move around I was a prisoner in my own home I wasn’t living I was just existing in one room – my mental health and well-being suffered greatly I was on antidepressants and becoming less sociable as time went on. I asked the same question every time ‘can I have a bungalow’ to receive the same answer over and over your to young.
Thankfully the last 6 years I’ve been in a purposely built bungalow for disabled people but not though my local council housing but though a housing Association called Habinteg, that provide suitable properties (houses and bungalows) for disabled people/families.
I can’t believe that even after 6 years of being in a suitable property I’m reading and speaking to people who are getting the same answers I did when I was looking and asking for a more accessible place to live 9 years ago, how have local authorities not moved on!? it very much makes me believe that disabled people are a forgotten world.
Just having the appropriate housing can dramatically improve disabled people’s ability to live independently, those whose homes do meet their accessibility needs have reported improved health and well-being, just having the right adaptations to the home can create significant savings to the public purse, reducing social care costs for local authorities and health costs for the NHS is this not a good thing?.
A few facts
In England, only seven percent of housing meets the minimum standards, all local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales have failed to collect data or meet current demands, let alone plan for the future, this is a huge concern as the number of disabled people is increasing: an estimated 13.3 million in Britain in 2016, up from 11.9 million in 2013 to 2014.
Muscular Dystrophy UK did a survey and found that a third of people are facing serious debt and financial hardship, trying to fund getting adaptations to their homes to fit the needs of loved ones or themselves, that’s a staggering 70% of people living in homes that didn’t suit their needs, for example homes in which it is impossible to turn a wheelchair limiting their access to bedrooms and bathrooms and leaving them confined to one floor!
What needs to be done
- All local authorities to scrap the age bracket on any available bungalows for disabled people and families.
- Increase what’s available to households through the Disabled Facilities Grant, ensuring that this rises in line with inflation
- All Local authorities to ensure any new developments that at least 10% of houses build to have the Lifetime Home Standard I.e a standard for accessible home-built to wheelchair-accessible standards.
- All local authorities should have policies that provide discretionary top up payments in cases where families cannot afford additional costs.
- Local authorities to provide increased specialist disability advice and advocacy services for housing options.
- Local authorities to work with the NHS to ensure people living in institutional and residential care are supported to live independently.
- For national and local governments to improve the way that data is collected and shared, both on the requirements of disabled people and on the accessibility of existing housing stock.
Are you disabled or have a family member in an unsuitable property facing this housing crisis share your story in the comments with me.