Disabled people who took part in a groundbreaking conference this week have suggested key ways to solve the chronic lack of accessible housing in Scotland.
Disabled people charities, housing professionals and civil servants from the Scottish government came together at the conference – hosted by Capability Scotland and Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living (GCIL) – to discuss how to deal with the housing crisis that prevents a fifth of disabled people in Scotland from living in accessible homes.
Among the recommendations agreed at the conference delegates called for all 32 local authorities across Scotland to follow Glasgow’s lead in using the planning system to encourage the development of accessible housing.
For all private developments of more than 20 homes in Glasgow, at least ten per cent must be wheelchair-accessible.
The conference also called for expert housing advice and information for disabled people to be available across the country, rather than the current scattered local provision, and for better and more efficient housing adaptations services.
And delegates said there should be a Scottish accessible housing register – an idea backed by the Scottish government – following the lead of a pilot scheme in Glasgow, developed by GCIL.
The conference’s recommendations, as well as a report and research by Capability Scotland, will be passed to MSPs and the Scottish government.
Grant Carson, GCIL’s director of housing and employment services, said the conference was the first time that disabled people, housing professionals and civil servants had come together in this way to discuss the shortage of accessible housing.
He said: “The overall message is that the local authorities need to work more efficiently to meet the needs of disabled people.
“A lot of the time it is not about more money, it is about using the money you have more efficiently.”
He said there was a shortfall of 230,000 accessible properties across Scotland, with 8,000 households waiting for an adaptation that would allow then to bathe independently, and 6,000 waiting for a ramp to be installed to allow disabled people to enter and leave their own homes unaided.
And of 5,000 fully wheelchair-accessible properties across Scotland, only 2,000 were occupied by wheelchair-users.
Carson added: “Housing is the cornerstone of inclusive living. Without a user-friendly accessible house, disabled people cannot access employment, education, or even social and recreational opportunities.”
1 March 2011