Over two-thirds of people in Britain say their homes are inaccessible for wheelchair users, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by Habinteg
The poll follows research that revealed under a quarter (23%) of new homes to be built outside London by 2030 are planned to be accessible, despite a rapidly ageing population.
The poll, commissioned by accessible housing provider Habinteg, surveyed 2,014 people on 21 August in England, Wales and Scotland and revealed:
- Only 1 in 5 (21%) say a wheelchair user would reasonably be able to access all areas of their home
- Almost 7 in 10 (69%) confirmed that such manoeuvrability would not be possible
- Under a third of respondents in England (31%) felt that wheelchair users would be able to make use of the appliances in their home including accessing the wardrobes and opening fridges/ovens.
Typical reasons why homes are inaccessible include steps into the front door, the width of doors into and around the house, and bathrooms that are located upstairs.
Disabled campaigners from across the country are demanding the government change policy on accessible housing.
Sarah O’Connor, a qualified nurse and wheelchair user from London, said: “I’ve been forced to physically drag myself up each step into my house, heaving my wheelchair behind me.
“I’ve had countless experiences where I’ve had to decline an invite to a colleague/friend’s house due to the pure anxiety of not knowing whether I’ll be able to go to the toilet or even reach the sink to wash my hands.”
Fi Anderson, another disability campaigner and wheelchair user from Bolton, said: “My 8 year wait for a suitably accessible property meant my kids were denied the chance to have a normal childhood where their mum could tuck them into bed and read them a book. Many disabled people know what it is like to suffer within our own homes.
“Habinteg’s poll is right to point out the number of British people who don’t believe their home is accessible for a wheelchair user to visit, but it is also crucial to draw attention to the number of wheelchair users who still have nowhere suitable to live. I know first-hand just how detrimental this is on mental and physical health.”
Commenting on the findings, Sheron Carter, CEO at Habinteg, said: “Habinteg’s founding mission was to ensure that disabled people and non-disabled people can live together as neighbours. Today’s poll results show how far we have yet to go as a society. They reinforce what we have known for a long time: the government and local authorities are simply not doing enough for our disabled and older population.
“We are calling on the government to urgently change national policy to ensure all new homes are built to accessible and adaptable standards. This was promised by former Prime Minister Theresa May in July as part of a new consultation, and we now need the new PM to honour that pledge”