The investigation into accessible housing and the services of the UK’s housing providers was instigated following concerns raised by members of the Trailblazers network when searching for accessible accommodation to rent or buy.
Members reported having to wait years to find wheelchair-accessible homes, despite local authorities providing funds for adaptations to the homes of thousands of disabled people every year.
After college or university, many young people – disabled and non-disabled – want to move away from home and begin a new chapter of their lives. Obtaining barrier-free, accessible accommodation is a key component for young disabled people to be able to live independently.
Our Locked Out report is the result of findings taken from a survey of 200 young disabled people and 12 focus group meetings across the UK over a period of nine months. It reveals that many young disabled people believe that the property sector and independent living services regularly fail to deliver a good or efficient service for them.
The barriers to living independently can range from an estate agent’s lack of knowledge of the accessibility of housing stock to the disparity in the assessment criteria and the quality of personal care in different regions of the country.
The Trailblazers’ intention for this report is to shed light on the list of obstacles that face young disabled people and their families who want to buy or rent a property. We also hope that the solutions and advice offered within this report will help to create a situation where young disabled people in the UK feel confident that estate agents, local authorities, property developers and architects will deliver a service that means they can live not only independently but also where they want to live.
Our report revealed:
- Eighty five percent of survey respondents do not feel confident that access advice given by estate agents, local authorities and other housing providers is accurate.
- A lack of information from estate agents, local authorities or other providers has prevented or deterred half of this group of young disabled people from living independently.
- Eight out of ten people are not confident they would be able to access the same level of care and support if they moved out of their local authority.
- Almost a quarter say that a landlord has refused to carry out minor disability-related adjustments and adaptations or refused to let them make their own adjustments.
- Seven out of ten say they find it difficult to identify accommodation that is accessible to them because estates agents have poor knowledge of adapted properties in their area.
- Ninety-four percent say that more information about access on websites would improve their experience of looking for accommodation.
- Seven out of ten think local authorities have insufficient knowledge of their housing needs.
They don’t expect us to live on our own; ergo they don’t build for us. They build for people that they think will have the money to buy a home. They don’t consider us to have spending power or the ability to want to live in our own home. We probably don’t exist in their mind.
Catherine Gillies, Scotland
Trailblazers are calling for:
- local authorities and developers to ensure that new houses will be built to the Lifetime Homes Standard and 10 percent to be built to wheelchair standard design.
- estate agents to develop accessible property websites so that it is easy to search for accessibility criteria such as ramp access, walk-in shower, downstairs toilet, and stair-lifts.
- architects, planners, and developers to work with disabled people such as Trailblazers to understand the housing needs and aspirations of disabled people.
You can read the most recent report here. Trailblazers continues to campaign on improving access to housing. If you are affected by these issues and would like to share your experiences or be a media ambassador, contact us here.