photo credit: Lisa Norwood via photopin cc

Two-thirds of councils are failing in their legal obligation to make homes safe for disabled people, according to a new report.

The long wait for a home‘ report, by Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD), found that 62% of councils failed to carry out necessary adaptations within the one year time limit.

44% of councils are putting disabled people at risk of injury or mental health problems by making them wait more than two years.

LCD also found that demand for home adaptations have increased by 6% since 2011/12, while the number of Disabled Facility Grants (DFG) paid have fallen by 3% over the same period. 2,500 disabled people each year are being made to wait over one year for funding.

A survey by LCD, in partnership with the College of Occupational Therapists, shows that 96% of occupational therapists agree that home adaptations for disabled people reduces the need for social care services.

Providing disabled-friendly housing would cut social care costs for councils, because disabled people would need less help to take care of themselves.

Inaccessible housing is leading to vulnerable and disabled people becoming trapped in their own homes, with many forced to sleep in their living room and unable to to get in and out of their front doors.

Wheelchair user Adam Lotun, 51, became disabled following an accident at work. He has had to wait over TEN YEARS for the improvements he needs to make his home safe, despite being told that his home could be easily adapted.

He was initially told that he would receive DFG funding. His local council later informed him that he would have to pay £100,000 out of his own pocket for a wet-room and kitchen extension, so he could use them both in his wheelchair.

Adam said: “I have to leave my wheelchair outside and get around the house by holding on to furniture and using a stick, or crawling to get up the stairs.

“I don’t have the money to pay for a stair lift so wash in my kitchen sink, and use a bucket to go to the loo downstairs.

“I have been trapped without a disabled-friendly home for ten years, and all I want is somewhere I can live independently with my family.”

LCD is calling on the government to increase DFG funding for councils and for local authorities to ensure that all disabled people receive grants within the legal time limit.

The charity is also calling for all new homes to be built in a way that would make them easy to adapt for disabled people. And 10% of large developments should be fully wheelchair accessible, says LCD.

Andy Cole, Campaigns Director at LCD, said:

“Each year 2,500 disabled people have to wait over one year to get adaptations to make their homes accessible, so it is shocking that while demand for this essential work is going up, funding for the programme is falling.

“This will mean even more disabled people will be left stuck in homes that are damaging to their health, and their independence.

“The effects of poor housing cause stress and depression as well as physical injuries which put a huge strain on our health and social care services.

“All political parties must address this housing crisis and ensure the funding is put in place for local councils to resolve this.”

Julia Skelton, Director of Professional Operations, College of Occupational Therapists, said:

“Housing adaptations make a profound difference to disabled people. They dramatically improve quality of life, are essential for dignity and enable people to do the things we all take for granted.

“Subjecting people to prolonged delays for these vital adaptations is simply unacceptable.

“The College of Occupational Therapists strongly supports a yearly increase in DFG funding as well as continued assistance from local authorities for those who cannot afford to pay. This will ensure everyone gets the help they need, as quickly as possible.”