In our blog last week, “What we want the general election to deliver for disabled people,” we wrote about the need for the next Government to present an ambitious vision for disabled people.  

A key part of this vision must be to ensure that disabled people have a choice of housing that meets their needs.

For nearly 20 years, the Aspire Housing Programme has been supporting spinal cord injured people by providing fully accessible temporary housing and the help they need to secure permanent suitable homes.  For all the efforts of the Aspire Housing team though, we cannot meet demand and every year hundreds of spinally injured people are forced into inappropriate accommodation.

Last year Aspire campaigned for more housing for disabled people by:

  • publishing independent research revealing how important it is for spinal cord injured people to live in housing designed for their needs.
  • producing a film ‘An Intolerable Situation’ which showed how living in an inaccessible home has forced Tracey to put her life on hold
  • working with Parliamentarians to bring an end to the misery of thousands of disabled people like Tracey. 
  • achieving a new duty in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill which requires local authorities to meet the housing needs of disabled people.   
  • giving evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry examining the Government’s record on disability and the built environment. 

On Tuesday, the Committee published its findings: 

  • The conclusion was that “we should future-proof our housing” to give everyone, including disabled people, choice.
  • Local authorities should be able to expect all new homes to be accessible.
  • Accessibility standards for new housing are “simply too low to meet the needs of the population.”
  • It recommends that the Government raise the minimum standard to require all new housing to be accessible and adaptable for disabled people.

What is particularly welcome about the Committee’s position is that they appear to be in favour of accessible and inclusive development, presenting the idea of an inclusive society in which meeting the housing needs of disabled people is a given.  

This is therefore a powerful example of the kind of ambitious, coherent vision we wrote about in last week’s election blog, and one we would hope to see embraced in election manifestos and fully implemented by the incoming Government.