Habinteg has welcomed the findings of an influential cross-party committee inquiry by MPs into 'Disability and the Built Environment'. The Women and Equalities Select Committee has been investigating issues faced by disabled and older people in accessing housing, workplaces and public spaces.
The report, published on Tuesday 26 April, contains recommendations for action for government, local authorities and others to put access at the heart of decision making.
Amongst a raft of positive proposals, the committee recommends that all new homes should be built to a default minimum baseline of Part M (4) Category 2 (broadly equivalent to the Lifetime Homes Standard).
In response, our Vice-Chair Andrew Gibson said:
Addressing the housing crisis is a key national issue, so it is extremely pleasing to see such a strong cross party consensus on the urgent need for all new homes to be built to accessible and easily adaptable standards. The current national accessible housing deficit coupled with the future housing challenges of an ageing population will demand nothing less than robust policy solutions as recommended by the select committee today.
The Women and Equalities Select Committee is made up of MPs from across the political spectrum and makes clear, achievable and practical recommendations on disability in the built environment having assessed a broad range of expert opinion. Building homes to an inclusive accessible default is a key recommendation that can be welcomed across the country.
It’s obvious to see why. With just 7% of homes in England accessible, now is the time for all political parties to take accessibility of homes and neighbourhoods seriously. It's time to place inclusion at the heart of their built environment policies for government. A national requirement to build new homes to this inclusive, easily adapted standard (Building Regulations Part M (4) Category 2) would deliver a welcome and firm context for house building in this country.
It just makes sense.
As I mentioned in my evidence to the select committee, accessible housing plays an important role in independent and inclusive living. Many people benefit from inclusively designed homes, promoting community cohesion and health and wellbeing. Homes that work for the young disabled person taking up employment opportunities, older people looking for a house that can adapt to meet changing needs or parents with young children in a buggy. Inclusive communities are vibrant and can welcome everyone to live or to visit comfortably.
The inquiry report recommends swift action to bring about a housing policy that works for everyone. We welcome the Committee’s conclusions and look forward to new inclusive housing policies coming to fruition based on their expert recommendations.
You can see Habinteg's original written response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee inquiry here
The full Disability and Built Environment inquiry report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee is available here