A charity is calling on all the political parties to make a pledge to build more disabled-friendly homes, after a survey found it is “often impossible” for disabled people to find homes they can live in with dignity.
The Hidden Housing Crisis report published by Leonard Cheshire charity found 11 per cent of adults have mobility problems and of these, 72 per cent say that the door to their property is not accessible, 63 per cent say they do not have a bathroom large enough to fit a wheelchair into and half say that they do not have stairs big enough for a stair-lift to be fitted.
Sue Frier, who uses a wheelchair has been living in a two-storey house for two years. She revealed how her life has become impossible.
She said: “I have been unable to go upstairs for two years and have to be washed in the kitchen sink. If people come to visit they have to leave the house when I use the toilet as it has no door on so I can get my wheelchair in. I have been told I will have to wait years to get a disabled friendly home.”
Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, called it “truly shocking that in 2014 disabled people are living in conditions reminiscent of the Victorian era”.
She added: “A strip wash at a kitchen sink is something that belongs in a period drama not Britain today. This is a hidden housing crisis which we must tackle head on. Our report shows that instead of home being the haven it should be, many thousands of disabled people are shut out of their own kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.
“We must make sure that the next generation of homes are built with the future in mind. For a very small investment today, we can make sure that the homes of tomorrow give disabled and older people freedom and comfort rather than despair.”
The report highlights the lack of action to build these homes, which is leaving many disabled and older people unable to live comfortably, as well as the low-cost changes that could be made.
The charity is calling on all house-builders and political parties to commit to building more disabled-friendly homes and specifically to make sure all new homes are easily adaptable, which costs only £1,000 extra per new home.
It also wants at least 10 per cent of homes in new large developments to be fully wheelchair accessible, which costs £13,000 extra per new home.
Backed by Leonard Cheshire Disability, Sue Frier has set up a petition asking housing ministers from all parties to meet her and see how the lack of disabled-friendly homes is making her life a misery. The petition, being launched as part of the Home Truths campaign, is available at www.leonardcheshire.org/hometruths
• Lifetime Homes are ordinary houses and flats which incorporate 16 design criteria that can be universally applied to new homes for only £1,000. Lifetime Homes have walls strong enough to fit grab-rails, wider doors to allow wheelchairs in if needed and wide enough stairs to fit stair lifts. The standards are being written into law through the Deregulation Bill, currently being considered in the House of Lords. However they are currently planned to be optional for all house builders and local authorities would have to show evidence of need before requiring any new developments to be Lifetime Homes or fully wheelchair accessible.