Report highlights housing needs for wheelchair-users

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Report highlights housing needs for wheelchair-users

2nd August 2010

A recent report sponsored by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) estimates that 78,300 wheelchair-users in England are living in homes that are not fully wheelchair-accessible.

The report was produced by Habinteg Housing Association, a leading national provider and campaigner for affordable and accessible homes, and London South Bank University. The aim of the report was to research local and national housing policy as well as to make recommendations regarding the allocation and design of wheelchair-accessible housing.

Mark Thomson, a spinal injuries expert at Fentons Solicitors said: "Local authorities need to ensure that all new housing developments should include accessible and adaptable homes as a matter of course. It is crucial that those who have suffered with serious spinal injuries should be able to live in homes that have been designed or specially adapted to suit their needs."

The report criticises the inefficient allocation of existing accessible and adaptable social housing. Between 2008-2009 only twenty-two per cent of vacant local authority and housing association properties deemed wheelchair-accessible were allocated to wheelchair-users. The report recommended councils should set up accessible housing registers to hold information on accessible properties and housing applicants who are in need of wheelchair-accessible housing.

"These figures illustrate just how inefficiently local authority accessible housing resources are being used," said Mark, a partner with the firm. "There is a huge amount of need for wheelchair-accessible housing. It is obvious that wheelchair-users need sufficient space in their homes to ease mobility, it is therefore vital that existing accessible housing resources are allocated more effectively."

The report highlights the contrasting provision in different parts of the country, sometimes even between neighbouring London boroughs. Nearly one in four wheelchair-user households in the north-west of England and nearly one in five in London reside in accommodation that is not fully wheelchair-accessible, compared with less than one in ten in the south-west and one in twenty in the south-east. Only sixteen per cent of all homes in England would allow a wheelchair-user to get to and through the front door without any difficulty. Only 0.5 per cent of homes are reported to be both accessible and adaptable.

"The government needs to be more aware of the importance of providing housing opportunities for those with disabilities," said Mark. "The solutions are not complicated. Those who have sustained severe spinal injuries should be allocated accessible or adaptable housing to enable them to move freely within their own homes, ensuring they retain both their health and independence."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of serious spinal injuries.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.