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LibLink: Victor Chamberlain: Local authorities still hold the key to accessible housing

Southwark Lib Dem Councillor Victor Chamberlain has written for Inside Housing about providing suitable housing for disabled people.

He sets out the problem:

It’s over a century since the ground breaking Addison Act of 1919, passed under Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, laid the foundation for social housing in the UK. Despite significant progress since then, it’s disheartening that we still grapple with fundamental challenges of providing quality and suitable housing for everyone. This is particularly true for disabled people who lack a range of suitable housing options, especially adequate numbers of accessible and adaptable homes. 

Accessible housing is not just a matter of convenience; it is a fundamental human right that directly impacts individuals’ safety, independence, and quality of life. Accessibility features and home adaptions also prevent avoidable hospital admissions and care home placements. Every £1 invested in housing adaptations is worth in more than £2 in care savings and quality of life gains. It’s a win-win scenario that cannot be ignored, particularly at a time when social care budgets face unprecedented strain.

The Disabled Facilities Grant, intended to fund housing adaptations, is woefully insufficient to meet demand. The £30,000 cap on expenditure per home is outdated and inadequate, leaving many unable to afford the necessary modifications. Consequently, local councils are forced to cover the shortfall from overstretched social care budgets, exacerbating financial strain and limiting resources for other essential services.

He cites the example of a disabled resident who has waited 22 years for a home that meets her needs.

The solution, he argues, lies in social housing as the private rented sector cannot meet people’s needs.

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