Council Praised For Accessible Housing Strategy

Hammersmith and Fulham council in London have been praised for a forward-thinking housing strategy which consulted disabled residents about their requirements. Disability News Service reports that the local authority has carried out pioneering work to remove the barriers faced by disabled people.

The council worked with disabled residents to identify the particular barriers they faced in housing, in order to design solutions which are appropriate for their needs. Research discovered that in the past, disabled people and rights organisations were isolated and excluded from the decision-making process.

Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, told an online launch of the strategy: “We know it’s a first stage and there’s so much more to do but it’s really a vital stage and I can’t think of a more needed and central issue to co-produce with disabled people than housing… because it is an absolute basic essential right and foundation for a good life.”

The work builds on a previous project which began three years ago to embed a culture of co-production within the council, and put the power of planning and decision making into the hands of the people who actually utilise the facilities. The ultimate aim is to help people live independently in their own homes, with less reliance on social care.

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), there is a significant shortage of accessible homes in the UK. Disabled people often find the housing system demoralising, and there are unacceptable delays and bureaucracy involved in installing home adaptations. 

The EHRC describes decent housing as a basic human right. An individual who is able to wash and cook for themselves is empowered to make the choice whether or not they have to live in residential care. In a recent report, they call on local and national governments to engage with disabled people at the planning stages, and for a change in national policy.

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