Last chance to have your say on accessible housing
24 Nov 2020
by Ethos Group

Finding a suitable forever home is a difficult challenge for anyone with reduced mobility and particularly wheelchair users and it’s really important to make the Government aware of this growing problem.

So, with only one week left to the deadline for replies to the latest Government consultation,  we are urging you to add your voice to the debate on future regulations controlling the accessibility of new-build homes.

We at Ethos have submitted our response in which we call on the Government to take immediate action to change building regulations and insist on a higher level of accessibility in all new homes. 

The reality is that millions of us, particularly those who are older or living with a long term condition such as a catastrophic spinal cord injury, live in homes that don’t meet our daily needs. England’s existing housing is simply not suitable for the diverse and changing needs of our ageing population, and often the new homes we build aren’t either. 

Figures released in the English Housing Survey (EHS) this year show that an overwhelming 91% of homes do not provide for even the lowest level of accessibility – a home that is ‘visitable’. 

We estimate that some 400,000 wheelchair users are currently living in homes that are neither adapted nor accessible/visitable. 

In the next twenty years, there will be a huge age shift in our society when one in four of us will be aged over 65. One in five adults aged 65-69 need help with one or more activities of daily living (such as bathing, cooking or simply using the toilet). By the time people reach their 80s, this figure rises to more than one in two of us. 

But as it stands, only one new accessible home is planned for every fifteen people over 65 by 2030.  Contrary to common misconceptions, more than 90% of older people live in mainstream housing rather than specialist housing or care homes. Understandably, most of us want to stay in our own homes, streets and communities for as long as we can and our homes should enable more of us to do this.

We must build new homes that meet the current acute need and the growing future need in mind.

The positive social impact of building more accessible homes has the potential to be vast. We would expect this to reduce demand for NHS and social care services and costly adaptations made to homes in order to meet immediate needs. 

If houses are not built to be accessible from the offset, then these costs are simply pushed into the future and on to individuals, the government and the taxpayer. It is much more effective to build the type of homes we need now than to adapt unsuitable properties in future, often at huge costs.

Making all new homes accessible and adaptable will mean that more people will be able to stay in their own homes as their needs change, rather than being forced to move prematurely and unnecessarily into care homes, supported or specialist housing which cost much more. 

Returning home from hospital will be smoother and faster and people who use the Ethos service provision will utilise the skills they have worked hard to achieve. In addition, the likelihood of falls and other housing related health problems including poor mental health will be less frequent and people’s need for care at home will reduce. All of this would free up much needed NHS and social care resources.

If you would like to join us and add your voice to the debate then act now – the closing date is December 1st. You can read the Government consultation here:

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