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From vision to reality: Accessible homes for everyone

The findings from the Levelling Up Housing and Communities Committee’s report published on 20th May - Disabled people in the housing sector ( -underscore a critical need for reform in the UK’s approach to housing accessibility, says Habinteg's CEO Nick Apetroaie.

The recommendation to make the Building Regulations M4(2) standard mandatory for all new homes is transformative and an aspiring promise that would profoundly improve housing options for disabled and older people across the country. Homes designed to meet the M4(2) standard are accessible to a wide range of people and adaptable to the changing needs of households over the lifetime of the home.

The committee’s recommendation perfectly aligns with Habinteg’s mission and the urgent need to ensure that all new housing developments cater to the diverse needs of the population with 1 in 4 people with a reported disability and 34% of households including a disabled person.

Inadequate housing policy framework

The report highlights significant inadequacies in our current housing policy framework. Local Authorities have inconsistent approaches to accessible housing standards, resulting in a fragmented landscape of provisions across the country. This inconsistency leaves many disabled people trying to make do in unsuitable homes.

Establishing robust, uniform standards of accessibility is critical to ensure every new home supports an inclusive society. As the country prepares for a general election, we call on all political parties to recognise the importance of accessible homes and take decisive action.

New baseline standard needed

Ensuring that all new homes are accessible and adaptable is more than a policy choice – it is a commitment to inclusivity and equality. The next government has a pivotal role to play in making this vision a reality, and it is imperative that they seize this opportunity to make a lasting, positive change by mandating M4(2) as the new baseline standard for all new homes.

As the co-chair of the Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition, a group of sector leading organisations and charities that aims to tackle UK’s acute and growing shortage of accessible homes, Habinteg has been calling for accessible and adaptable design standards to be made mandatory across the country.

Accessible housing benefits

The need for accessible homes is well-documented and the figures show that demand far outstrips supply. Accessible homes help reduce healthcare costs, decrease the need for social care, and enable disabled and older people to live more independently.  Adopting the M4(2) standard can lead to substantial long-term savings for the public sector by reducing the need for costly retrofits and adaptation by default.

Accessible housing design benefits not only disabled people but also families with young children, elderly visitors, and anyone with temporary impairments, creating a more liveable, adaptable and resilient housing stock for everyone.

Action is needed

I wholeheartedly endorse the committee’s view: it is intolerable that so many disabled people are living in unsuitable accommodation for years without hope. The time for action is now.

Habinteg’s extensive experience in providing accessible homes has shown us firsthand the difference that properly designed housing can make. They are not just about providing basic needs; they are about creating spaces where individuals can thrive, contribute, and participate fully in society.

This is not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it is about creating a society that values and includes everyone.

This article was first published in Inside Housing on 17 June 2024.

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