It's Habinteg's #ForAccessibleHomes week of action. From 9-13 September we'll be featuring expert guest blogs all week on the accessible housing crisis and the steps we need to take to build more, quality accessible homes for our ageing and disabled population. Today's blog is from Cllr David Renard, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board.
Housing is absolutely critical to the wellbeing of individuals, and well-designed accessible homes are needed to meet the housing needs of our ageing population and the increasing number of working age adults with disabilities.
Councils are doing all they can to offer the best possible level of care so older and disabled people can enjoy the independence, respect and dignity they deserve, and councils fully recognise that home adaptations are a key part of this.
This is why councils are working hard to provide housing adaptations and mobility aids which are vital to help keep people safe and independent in their homes and prevent avoidable admissions to hospital and care homes. Every £1 spent on housing adaptations are worth more than £2 in care savings and quality of life gains.
However, to help address requests for home adaptations, the Disabled Facilities Grant needs to be fully funded to keep pace with future demand and it needs to be easier for people to access. We also need to see a long-term sustainable funding solution for adult social care.
We recognise that there is a shortage of homes suitable for older and disabled people and people in vulnerable circumstances. To help address this councils need to be given greater planning powers and resources to hold developers to account, ensuring that they build the right homes in the right places needed by different groups within the local community.
We believe that new homes should be accessible or easily adaptable for people of all generations and needs, and it is vital the Government ensures national rules incentivise the building of accessible homes.
But it is also crucial to acknowledge that the majority of people will live in existing housing. The Government needs to continue to invest in supporting the adaptation of homes to meet the needs of people as their circumstances change.
Government needs to work with councils and housing associations to provide a sustainable funding framework through which to offer the certainty and clarity to invest in the future development of housing for people with a range of needs.
Lifting the housing borrowing cap was a big step forward in helping to get councils building again, but government needs to go further by devolving Right to Buy so councils retain 100 per cent of their receipts to reinvest in new homes, and can set discounts locally.
With these measures, councils will be able to do a lot more in tackling the country’s housing crisis and meeting the housing needs of older and disabled residents.