EHRC consulting on accessible housing

Mar 17, 2017

Accessible housing crisis
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EHRC inquiry into housing for disabled people

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, EHRC, is holding a formal inquiry into accessible housing, and they want to hear from you.

Whether you are an individual with a disability, or a professional working in social care or accessible housing, you can submit your experiences to them.

They are looking at the availability of accessible and adaptable housing, and the support services around it, in England, Scotland and Wales.

Independent living depends on the right home environment

Housing and associated support is an important part of independent living.

If you don’t have appropriate housing, it is much harder to access employment, education, leisure and recreational opportunities. The risk of illness and disability is increased.

According to one housing report, there are 1.8 million disabled people whose housing needs are not met.

Another report estimated that there is only enough funding to pay for one in every ten people who want to adapt their homes.

Tenancy support and advice – such as help with budgeting – can help to make sure people are able to stay in their rented home and are not forced to leave. These services are particularly important for some groups, such as people with learning disabilities.

EHRC wants to examine the concern that reduced funding may mean these services are taken away. There is also a worry that not enough accessible or adaptable houses are being built to meet the needs of disabled people.

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Terms of reference of the EHRC Inquiry

The Commission will:

• Explore the recent experiences of disabled people (from 2014 onwards) in relation to:
i) how the provision of accessible and adaptable housing and tenancy support services has enabled them to fulfil their right to independent living;
ii) the consequences of not having suitable housing or tenancy support services on their right to independent living.  

• Examine the existing evidence as to the extent of any shortfall in the availability of accessible and adaptable housing, and in the availability of tenancy support services.

• Examine the systems which local authorities and other social housing providers have in place in relation to disabled people who are being allocated a property,
i) to assess the person’s needs for an accessible and/or adaptable property
ii) to identify a property to match that person’s needs.

• Examine the evidence to assess how well systems are performing for applicants in relation to determining applications for and administering
i) disabled facilities grants (FGs) under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996;
ii) grants for the adaptation of dwellings for disabled persons under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 and the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (Scheme of Assistance) Regulations 2008.

• Examine what steps are being taken by local authorities and social housing providers, including, in the case of local authorities, in relation to use of planning and building regulations, to increase availability and provision of accessible and adaptable housing.

• Examine the evidence to assess the extent to which local authorities:
i) understand and are complying with their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty
ii) adopt a human rights approach and act in accordance with their human rights duties under ECHR
when taking measures that relate to the needs of disabled people for accessible and adaptable housing and tenancy support services.

• Explore the impact/potential impact of recent and proposed changes in housing policy and law on the availability and provision of accessible and adaptable housing and tenancy support services that enable disabled people to live independently.


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The Commission’s findings will inform their recommendations

The EHRC aims to publish the report towards the end of 2017.

They will include appropriate recommendations, where the evidence points to factors that are either improving or adversely affecting the realisation of disabled people’s right to independent living.

You can submit your evidence by completing an online questionnaire on the EHRC website (the link will open in a new browser window)

There are three different questionnaires: for disabled people and their families; for housing providers; and for disabled people’s organisations and other voluntary sector groups.

The closing date for receiving evidence is 18 April 2017.

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Further resources

You can read more about Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to adapt an existing home, here

Foundations, the organisation for Home Improvement Agencies, has a DFG roadshow touring this spring and autumn – more here

If you are looking for an accessible property to rent or buy, Branch Properties may be able to help

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