Weekly Poll – Housing to 2040 Strategy
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 29 March 2021, we asked a question about the proposed Housing to 2040 Strategy.
Do you think that a new Scottish Accessible Homes standard will help make housing more accessible for disabled people in Scotland?
- YES – 58% (39 respondents)
- NO – 42% (28 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
Lack of Accessible Housing
A narrow majority of respondents (58%) believed a new Scottish Accessible Standard will help make housing more accessible for disabled people in Scotland. Respondents reflected on their own personal experiences of being unable to find suitable accessible housing. A 2018 report on housing issues affecting disabled people in Scotland by the Equality and Human Rights Commission highlighted that:
- 61,000 people need adaptations to their home.
- Approximately 1% of housing is fully accessible for wheelchair users.
- 10,000 disabled Scots are on housing waiting lists
“Disabled people need a lot more housing to be made accessible to us in every area as most times to get a house to suit our needs or close to our needs involves having to move away from our support network. Also, when we eventually get a house, they still don’t fully suit our needs therefore we have to push and push social services to get the adaptations that we need which is a very long process. These houses are usually in high crime areas or in areas miles from local amenities or even in areas which are not suitable for people with mobility difficulties.”
“I am still in a private rent and I feel really let down. No support in place and at the same time my health has been systematically getting worse. Change is needed for better support as I am living in an old cottage that’s not eco-friendly or a good environment for my health as I have been getting worse and I do need a lot of adaptions as my mobility is the main issue along with COPD.”
“Local authorities need to be more responsive to the needs of disabled and elderly tenants. For example, 5 years ago I had to spend £4,500 of my savings to adapt my bathroom because of my health issues and disabilities because I couldn’t get an answer from my local council staff about the adaptations I needed.”
“I want to live in a house which is integrated into the estate. Not a special house, a truly Scottish wide range of options. As things are at present I could not apply for a job in another part of Scotland until I can find somewhere to live so stuck with few or no options.”
“A major issue with council built ‘wheelchair’ designed homes is that the space allocated for the bedroom, toilet and kitchen does not provide the circulation space which wheelchair users need. With more people in socially adapted housing done to current standards, and using larger electric wheelchairs or scooters, the circulation space is frustratingly inadequate.”
Some respondents believed the strategy does not go far enough to recognise a rapidly ageing population and the need to develop ‘lifetime homes’. The National Records of Scotland predict a 23% rise in the number of pensioners by 2043, equivalent to more than 240,000 older people.
“Although I believe the strategy will help, I do not think it will go far enough. When we have as many as 1 in 5 people recognising themselves as disabled and likely to deteriorate over time, it would make sense to build “Homes for Life”, i.e. if someone already has a disability and is likely to get worse, find a house that can be adapted to their needs instead of having to move them out into fully adapted properties which are in ever greater demand. All it takes is a little extra forethought and planning to save in the long-term.”
“A major problem is that less than 2% of new social housing is designed to be accessible; in practice we need about 15% of all new homes to be accessible. It would take little design application and cost to make new housing modular so that it can be retrofitted to make it flexible in key areas. This is the ethos behind ‘lifetime homes’.”
“I think the Scottish Government should be building lifetime homes, and insisting through planning applications that private builders do likewise. We need bungalows/ easily accessible homes which are inclusive to all the ages and disabled people. Do builders and planners not know that 40% of the UK population is aged over 65? All the new homes being built by private developers are huge with 4 /5/6 bedrooms, and hardly any land around them – it is about time they realised there is a grey pound market for smaller houses.”
“The strategy fails to adequately take into account that we have an ageing population and that an increasing number of those who are elderly are also disabled and they live alone.”
Some respondents were left frustrated by the timescales proposed in the strategy, with general consensus amongst disabled people that more urgent action is needed to make housing accessible in Scotland.
“I am disappointed that it will take until 2030 before the Standard is fully implemented. The proposed timetable will mean that many homes will be built in the interim which do not address the needs of disabled people.”
“It shouldn’t take another 20 years to ensure people can safely live in homes. This should be done already if I’m honest. We had to fight for my access needs and they weren’t done to the level needed. I was told if I wanted to move out of my parents I wouldn’t be guaranteed an accessible house or parking, even though these are things I need. I, like many disabled adults are stuck living at home with parents due to the lack of accessible housing and we are being told to just wait 20 more years. I’ll be 47!”
“I have already been waiting 14 years for a suitable property.”
“I have been on the housing list for 11 years, I will be 62 this year, my wife will be 64 this year also. Both seriously disabled and ignored, I cannot wait till 2040 to have even a remote chance of being housed. The points system they all use does not work for us, and needs changing now.”
Involve Disabled People and Access Panels
In order for the proposed strategy to be implemented successfully, it is essential to engage directly with disabled people and Access Panels. At Disability Equality Scotland, we are the umbrella body for Access Panels; groups of volunteers who work together to improve access and wider social inclusion in their local communities.
“As a disabled person I am very keen to see housing like this happen. I would like to play a part in this Strategy because I believe that it is a good idea.”
“At what point are the views and experiences of real-life disabled people taken into consideration?”
“I feel that with proper input from specialist advisory groups & from reviewing existing accessible housing projects, this could be very beneficial to the disabled community.”
In conclusion, a narrow majority of respondents agreed that the proposed strategy will help to improve accessible housing in Scotland. Respondents shared their concerns about the lack of suitable housing available at present for disabled people, as well as inadequate support from local authorities. Disabled people stressed that change is needed urgently and that the commitments featured in the strategy must be addressed with full engagement from disabled people and Access Panels.