A disabled elderly woman using a handrail to steady herself in the toilet

More accessible homes and raised standards

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities has announced that new homes are to become more accessible for older citizens and those with disabilities, as the government confirms that the standard of accessible housing is to be raised.

Following a consultation on raising accessibility standards in new homes, the government has responded. The three proposals to come from the consultation were centred around staying within the existing framework for accessible housing, raising the minimum standard of accessible housing, or reconsidering the way that existing standards are used. This has led to the government committing themselves to raising the minimum standard, in order to give people “the dignity and security they deserve in their homes.”

Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, said:

“Older and disabled people must have homes which are suitable for their needs and allow them to love comfortably and independently.

“This consultation has made clear raising the accessibility standard of new homes is supported not just be people who use accessible homes, but by industry and wider stakeholders as well.

“With that mandate, we are forging ahead with the next steps to make this a reality.”

Requirements to come with the raised standards will include step-free access to all entrance level rooms and facilities, as well as other features that will make homes easier to adapt over time and allow people to live independent lives.

In the last twelve years, over £4.5 billion has been allocated to councils around the country to help deliver almost half a billion home adaptations, and the current planning regulations already ensure that councils need to consider the needs of older and disabled residents when planning new homes.

Co-chair of the Housing Made for Everyone coalition, Christina McGill, added:

“The need for accessible homes is going to grow significantly over the next 20 years as our population ages. Improving mandatory access standards will remove many of the barriers currently limiting the number of accessible homes being built and help deliver the right quality of homes for everyone.

“We look forward to further discussions with the government on the next phase of consultation. This must be carried out with urgency and address the finer details needed to deliver on the promise of housing that is suitable and accessible for people throughout their lives.”

The announcement from the Levelling up, Housing, and Communities department also confirmed that a second consultation is to be carried out. This will cover the details of the changes in regulation, updates to statutory guidance, and the circumstances where exceptions apply.

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