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Disability Strategy.

On the 28th July 2021, the Government launched the new ‘National Disability Strategy’, which promises more accessible housing, easier commuting and better job prospects for the millions of people living with disabilities across the UK.

Findings from the UK Disability Survey, which received over 14,000 responses, highlighted that many people living with disabilities felt held back in their every day lives by the negative attitudes of others. Included in this was the lack of accessible houses and poorly designed homes.

Currently, only 1 in 10 homes in England have at least one adaptation for disabled people, meaning many people living with disabilities wake up every morning in a home that is not adapted or suitable to their needs.

There have been improvements in accessible homes in recent years, due to tightened regulations and an increased awareness of inclusive design. However, less than half of the local plans in England for new homes include requirements for a proportion of the homes to meet higher accessibility standards.

An adapted and fully accessible home is the foundation for an independent life, and as such, the government has pledged the following immediate steps:

  • Boost the supply of housing for disabled people by raising accessibility standards for new homes, increasing the supply of affordable homes, included supported housing, and accelerating the adaption of existing homes by improving the efficiency of local authority delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grant. (The DFG is available from local councils in England and Wales, and can help meet the costs of adaptations needed to make homes more accessible).
  • Extend disabled tenants’ rights on accessibility.
  • Ensure the safety of disabled people in buildings, for when there are emergencies. 

Many people are criticising the Disability Strategy, claiming it falls short and fails to make immediate and straight forward changes to existing building regulations. Rather than pledging to build a proportion of all new homes to have a minimum accessibility requirement, it has committed the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to confirm plans to improve the framework to deliver accessible new homes by December 2021, this will improve guidance, inform future policy, and consider modern building designs, technology and building use and operation.

(In December 2020, The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) completed the ‘Raising the accessibility standards for new homes’ consultation, which considered how to rise accessibility standards and recognised the vital importance of suitable homes for older people and people living with disabilities). 

Currently only 9% of homes in England have basic levels of accessibility, which puts the millions of people living with disabilities at a major disadvantage. To meet these basic needs and improve equality, policies need to be more robust and delivered much sooner. 

The ‘National Disability Strategy’ also covers access to justice, crime against disabled people and improving the accessibility of transport. It can be viewed in full here.

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