Age UK: “We need better accessibility standards in our new builds!”

By FrankiChaffin

January 16, 2020

Age UK is a UK charity focused on helping disabled people get help. They have partnered with housing association, Habinteg. Together, they have launched a campaign for new houses to be built with higher accessibility standards.

According to English Housing Survey, only 7% of houses meet accessibility standards. This is despite the fact that there are 6.5 million people with mobility issues. Not to mention 13.9 million disabled people. 

Home Care Insight reports that by 2030, less than a quarter of all homes built outside of London will be suitable for disabled people. 

Director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said: “Homes should be accessible to all. Regardless of whether it’s for first time buyers or seasoned home buyers. A well designed home can work for a lifetime, and for many generations to come. It makes sense if all new homes are built with this in mind.”

She went on to say “We’re creating swathes of houses that won’t be appropriate for a large part of the population. We know there are benefits when old people stay in their own home. When old people leave their house, and go into a care home. It has dramatic impacts on their health and well-being, this culminates in a higher financial impact. Not just on the family, but the NHS, and the rest of the nation as a whole.

Before Theresa May resigned, she committed to something revolutionary. A consultation that could deliver up to 300,000 new accessible houses. However, this has been assigned as a secondary matter since she resigned. Age UK and Habinteg are now calling in Boris Johnson to follow this through. However, he has, as of yet, not responded. 

What does Habinteg and Age UK intend to do with it?

Habinteg CEO, Sheron Carter has said: “Habinteg has been a provider of accessible housing for 50 years. We know the difference it can make for elderly and disabled people. The change is revolutionary. We understand Brexit is a pressing issue. However, if even 10% of the proposed number gets built, that’s 30,000 homes. That’s 30,000 lives changed. 30,000 voters more likely to vote Conservative.”

Habinteg has also proposed that these houses could serve as the basis. Reusing the same design over and over again, all over the UK. “These houses will change the lives of so many people. Thousands of disabled people live in ill-suited accommodation. If these houses are built, these people would be more productive. This means that the British economy will win doubly. Not only will there be people employed to build the houses. The people who live in them will be more productive than they are currently. 

According to Age UK and Habinteg, the main reason these houses have not been approved is not Brexit. But misconceptions. Sheron Carter said: “We need to tackle the misconceptions about accessible housing. They’re just ordinary homes with accessible features. Features such as ramps, wider corridors and bigger doors.” 

She added “A bit of consideration when designing would go a long way. We need to break this myth. Accessible housing isn’t anything to be worried about. It’s merely the same house but with certain special feature to help people.”