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Disability charity calls for more Lifetime Homes

30th December 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

The number of disabled people on the waiting list for council housing has increased by 17 per cent over the last five years according to UK disability charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.

In England, one in seven people on the waiting list is disabled, up from one in 11 people in 2010. According to the charity, thousands of disabled and older people are living in unsuitable housing. Some people have been on the list for 12 years. With the waiting list growing, there are concerns that there is not enough accessible housing available and that more need to be built.

Paul Gamble from Habinteg Housing Association told the BBC, “Issues of accessibility come very low down on the list. Our concern is that those should be thought about as a real fundamental principle about the kind of homes we should be building now and in the future, not as something that we think about in 20 years’ time.”

Lifetime Homes

The government has said it plans to build 8,000 homes for disabled and elderly people in England, however campaigners say that more will be needed. Leonard Cheshire Disability is calling for local councils to enforce mandatory construction of ‘Lifetime Homes’ in developers’ building plans.

These Lifetime Homes are not meant to be fully adapted for use by older people with mobility difficulties and disabled people, but instead have the essential features of a home that is ready for adaptation.

Such features that Lifetime Homes need to have include wide doors for wheelchairs, strong walls that grab rails can be added to, and stairs that are wide enough to comfortably fit a disabled stairlift. For such adaptations to be added on top of a Lifetime Home, the Disabled Facilities Grant available via local authorities can help cover the cost.

According to Leonard Cheshire Disability, the construction of Lifetime Homes will not only bring benefits to those who live in them, but also the wider UK economy. “If every social home had been built to Lifetime Home Standards then the Treasury would be saving almost £500m every year.”

Image Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District (flickr.com)