Housing News – Private Eye Robert Jenrick’s plan ignores the disabled

Housing News – Private Eye

SCANDALOUSLY, housing secretary Robert Jenrick’s new 84-page planning white paper entirely ignores the housing needs of disabled people. Even though the shortage of homes for wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility has long been recognised, the document makes no mention of disabled people or accessible housing.

Due to the obstacles they face in securing homes they can manage, disabled and elderly people have lost their independence, having been forced into unsuitable care homes or becoming hospital “bed-blockers” (Eyes passim). Two years ago, a damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission highlighted how many disabled people suffered serious deterioration in mental wellbeing because of unsuitable accommodation.

Even though the government insists existing rules provide for some accessible housing, housebuilders have long engaged in trade-off battles with local authorities not to provide it. Now, thanks to Jenrick’s desire to help developers “bounce back” from the economic impact of coronavirus, at many sites it looks as if they won’t even have to consider investing a tiny proportion of their profits in accessible — or even affordable — housing.

Yet again, the government’s Disability Unit has remained silent on the matter (see last Eye). Baroness Brinton, the disabled Liberal Democrat peer and the party’s social-care spokesperson in the Lords, said ignoring the needs of disabled people and their families was “utterly shameful”. She called on disabled people to protest in the consultation on the white paper, which asks for “views on the potential impact of the proposals raised in this consultation on people with protected characteristics” under the Equality Act.