Spending review: Mystery over accessible housing pledges


The government appears to have committed to funding two new measures aimed at tackling the shortage of accessible housing for disabled and older people.

Announcing the results of the spending review, which detail the government’s spending plans until the next general election in 2020, George Osborne told MPs that the government’s task was “to rebuild Britain, build our finances, build our defences, build our society”.

His spending review document includes a pledge to build 8,000 “specialist” homes for older and disabled people, and also appears to offer substantial new funding for disabled facilities grants (DFGs).

The document pledges “over £500 million by 2019-20 for the [DFG], which will fund around 85,000 home adaptations that year”.

If that pledge represents annual funding, it will represent an increase of more than 170 per cent, compared with DFG spending of £185 million in 2014-15.

But if it represents total funding in the four years to 2019-20, it would signify a steep cut in DFG funding.

By 7pm today (26 November), the Department for Communities and Local Government had been unable to clarify the figures, or provide any more detail on the specialist housing announcement.

Vicky McDermott (pictured), chief executive of the disability charity Papworth Trust, welcomed the announcement of 8,000 new specialist homes.

She said: “We are pleased the chancellor has used the spending review to pledge further investment into homes for disabled and older people.

“Papworth Trust has led calls for more investment to encourage developers to prioritise accessible homes in housing developments.

“Demand currently outstrips supply for homes that work for disabled people, so with the chancellor’s announcement, developers are in a good position to take advantage of this business opportunity.

“We look forward to hearing more details on these proposals and we will now be working very closely with developers to show there is a business case for building accessible and affordable housing in the UK.”

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport has yet to clarify what impact its funding settlement will have on work to improve access to rail stations through the Access for All programme.

Although the department’s day-to-day budget has been cut by 37 per cent, spending on transport infrastructure will increase by 50 per cent to £61 billion over the course of this parliament.

A Department for Transport spokesman had failed to comment by 7pm this evening (Thursday).

The spending review document also says the government is “investing in new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities”, but provides no further details on whether this means it will be building new, segregated special schools.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said there was no further information available about this investment.

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