Memorandum by Mr Roy Webb, National Centre
for Independent Living (NCIL) (AH 04)
I understand that the ODPM is currently consulting
on the governments policies on developing housing strategy. NCIL
has commented in the past that we do believe it is time to develop
a strategy which will address the serious problem of the lack
of accessible housing for disabled people.
We are pleased to see that housing is now a
priority issue for the government. Given the current difficulties
with the lack of affordable housing, either through the private
sector, or through residential social landlords or local authorities.
In the discussions leading up to the introduction of the DDA 2005,
NCIL argued that it will be useful to require landlords in the
residential social sector and public sector to keep registers
of accessible housing. evidence of using such registers shows
that they can considerably ease the problem of finding suitable
accommodation for disabled people. In some local authority areas,
this simple practical step has not only assisted the allocation
of housing, speeding the process up and providing better quality
services, but also saving money in administrative costs.
We also put forward the view that all new build
housing should be to Life Time Homes standards. The experiment
which some local authorities have carried out in regeneration
areas, shows this to be a practical approach. There will be no
additional cost from this approach, yet it provides housing stock
which is easily adaptable as the users housing needs change. As
many people will have the potential of developing disabilities
later in life, with accompanying changing housing needs, this
is a very practical long term programme. It has the additional
benefit of providing more housing which has basic access for disabled
people. Not only does this immediately help the problem of directly
meeting disabled peoples housing needs, but also makes the whole
housing stock more accessible. This will offer the additional
benefit of allowing disabled people access to accommodation being
used by family members and by their friends, increasing disabled
peoples inclusion in the community in general.
In addition to this, NCIL has expressed the
view that we need to consider building a proportion of housing
stock which is built to full wheel chair accessible standards.
Experience over the years and changing design for wheelchairs
has shown that we need to look beyond current building regulation
standards. Much discussion has been had about improving Part M
of the current building regulations. There is evidence that we
may need to look further then even the most recent suggestions
for amending these regulations. There is considerable benefit
in providing some housing which has full wheelchair access from
the start. First of all, there are disabled people in the community
now who have considerable difficulty finding accommodation to
meet their needs. In addition, if independent living is to be
promoted successfully and the current continuing increase in the
numbers of disabled people in residential care is to be addressed,
then we must have an increasing supply of housing which is built
to full wheelchair access standards from the start.
NCIL is running a national campaign on the right
to independent living and accessible housing is the first necessity
in achieving independent living for disabled people. The government
has set itself a goal of full inclusion for disabled people by
2020 and housing strategy is clearly a part of this overall programme.
We welcome this beginning on discussions on how to develop these
strategies. NCIL would like to suggest setting a target of around
10% of all new build housing to be at full wheelchair access standards,
in addition to the commitment on Life Time Homes. We believe this
will give a sound basis for developing an overall strategy, which
will lead to a regeneration and strengthening of our communities,
through the program envisaged by the government.