Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

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.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 20 March 2006