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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Housing crisis leaves disabled desperate and homeless

This news post is about 7 years old

​Major summit makes demands to end accessible homes crisis afflicting disabled people

Disabled people, their organisations and charities have come together to demand immediate, multi-agency action to tackle the dire shortage of accessible homes in Scotland.

They said the Scottish Government, local authorities, landlords and housebuilders must now move to defuse the “ticking timebomb” caused by lack of appropriate housing.

A major summit in Glasgow was told it has serious implications for disabled people and their families, social care support, health services, and communities.

Thousands of disabled people are trapped in unsuitable homes where they can’t move around, get out, cook, wash or use the toilet or are forced to live in residential care or stay in hospital, which in turn drains NHS resources.

We are creating a ticking timebomb that will have significant implications for services, housing and support across Scotland

The current situation can only get worse unless action is taken soon, with predictions of an 85% increase in the number of over 75s over the next 25 years meaning an extra 370,000 older people in Scotland, many of whom will be disabled or have long term conditions.

Participants in Our Place, Our Space, the second Annual Disabled People’s Summit in Scotland, taking place in Glasgow today (Friday, 2 December) are urging local and national government and housing providers to work with disabled people and their disabled people’s organisations to address current unmet and future housing needs.

A report from today’s event, held on the eve of United Nations International Disabled People’s Day, will be shared with Scottish Government ministers and policymakers, housing professionals, landlords and others to demonstrate the issues and implications, and to help drive change.

Organisers Independent Living in Scotland, an Inclusion Scotland project, joined forces with Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, Capability Scotland, Scottish Disability Equality Forum, Blackwood and the Scottish Older People’s Assembly.

They are calling for all disabled people and those with long-term conditions, to be able to choose a home that meets their needs by being accessible, adaptable, affordable and in the right area.

This applies to all types of housing tenure including private housing, and not just social rented housing.

Evidence of the scale of the problem and its impact is overwhelming. For example, the Scottish House Condition Survey 2012 showed that 129,000 households with a person with a long term condition or disability did not have the adaptations they needed, 68,000 households had great difficulty or could not get in and out of their own homes and 44,000 households could not use their own bathroom or toilet.

Figures also showed that over 200,000 households couldn’t access essential facilities in their own home so could be considered as homeless under the 1987 Housing (Scotland) Act.

Heather Fisken, Independent Living in Scotland project manager, said: “This is a human rights issue for disabled people. Accessible, affordable and suitable housing is at the heart of equality, independent living and a positive sense of identity and well-being for disabled people in Scotland.

“If we do not future proof Scotland’s housing stock by building new accessible homes and ensuring that others can be adapted if needed, we are creating a ticking time bomb that will have significant implications for services, housing and support all across Scotland, not to mention the life chances of hundreds of thousands of disabled people.

“Despite the well-documented shortfall in the supply of accessible housing in Scotland, we have not yet seen a national activity to really resolve this issue. While we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest £3 billion to build 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years – we need to see action which increases the supply of accessible homes.”

Recent integration of health and social care services in Scotland was supposed to enable local strategic planning for housing, but Fisken said that the picture across the country represents a “mixed bag”.

Reflecting general frustration over the health and social care integration, as reported in TFN, Fisken said: "The different approaches taken by different local authorities and Health and Social Care Integration Boards may well result in a postcode lottery for disabled people.”