Tuesday 8 September 2020 saw the launch of the long-awaited consultation on raising accessibility and adaptability standards for new homes – a key ask of the Housing Made for Everyone (HoME coalition).
We have long known that the lack of suitable homes is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed. That is why we came together as the HoME coalition – ten organisations calling for immediate action to tackle the acute and growing shortage of accessible and adaptable new homes.
This consultation is a critical opportunity to kick start a new age of better homes that will benefit us all. Raising accessibility standards for all new homes is an important step and one we must take as soon as possible. The longer we leave it, the greater the task and the more damaging the consequences of inaction as many more people struggle in unsuitable homes.
Our existing housing can present enormous barriers to older and disabled people. For example, many millions of homes have steps to the front door and very few have toilets at entrance level, essential for so many people who find it hard to get around. Poorly designed homes can present a daily struggle that impacts one very aspect of life, from the ability to simply get up and dressed, to maintaining social contacts or holding down a job.
This is deeply important for all of us. Whilst it’s not inevitable, most of us are likely to become less physically able as we grow older. And many people have mobility challenges from lifelong conditions or because of an accident. Anyone who has broken a limb will have had an experience of the barriers so many people face every single day just with simple daily tasks in the home.
Of course, well designed and flexible homes don’t only benefit older and disabled people. Parents caring for small children, using prams and buggies, face a range of hazards when a home hasn’t been designed with ease of use in mind. And all of us benefit from well-designed spaces when we’re handling furniture, heavy shopping or luggage and welcoming visitors with access requirements.
We need a fresh approach that acknowledges health and social care costs as well as housing need if we’re to have an effective policy framework–one that sets high standards of accessibility and good design whilst being fair to industry.
With an ongoing consultation on proposed future planning reforms also underway, there is an opportunity to support local authorities to plan with their communities high quality homes fit for the future of our society.
We look forward to engaging with the consultation process and strongly encourage all individuals and organisations that care about housing accessibility to join us in doing so. If you would like to find out more about becoming a supporter of the coalition or how you can keep in touch about our work then you can contact us at HoMEinfo@ageing.better.org.uk.