Up to 300,000 disabled people within the UK will spend Christmas in unsuitable homes this Christmas. A new report published by charity, Leonard Cheshire Disability has revealed, which coincides with its Home Truths campaign.
The No Place Like Home report, revealed that 84 per cent of councils have no information relating to wheelchair friendly housing in their local area, resulting in people with disabilities being stuck on waiting lists whilst living in unsuitable homes.
A wheelchair user from Bolton, Greater Manchester, Carlene Evans, was born with cerebral palsy. Ms Evans has been on the waiting list for a disabled friendly home for eight years, in her current home she is unable to cook in her kitchen, use the front door or go to the toilet without help.
Ms Evans said: “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 report provided guidelines for developers on how to build ‘disabled friendly’ homes and maintain a profit of £1.3 billion per year.
In addition, the study revealed that less than 20 percent of councils with plans to build housing, had plans to create disabled friendly homes in 2015, resulting in more people being stuck on a housing waiting list.
President of the association of directors of social services, David Pearson, 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.”
Leonard Cheshire Disabilities Home Truths campaign is asking for the Government to ensure housing developers create 10 per cent of all large developments with wheelchair access and that all homes are Lifetime Homes, fully adaptable if people become disabled.
In London, during 2014, over 80 per cent of homes were approved as meeting the standards required to be Lifetime Homes and almost 9 per cent were accessible by a wheelchair. Furthermore 95 per cent of new build properties were built as Lifetime Homes and a further 9.5 per cent met wheelchair accessible standards.
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.”