Suitable housing for disabled people must be prioritised

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee published its inquiry report on disabled people in the housing sector where Propertymark gave evidence, which examined barriers to accessible housing, increasing the supply of accessible homes, and the support available for adapting homes, including reforms to the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). The overarching conclusion chimes with our long-held position that the ultimate key to tackling the housing crisis is to build more homes of all kinds.

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Years of waiting

Following a public consultation, the UK Government made a policy commitment in 2022 to increase the minimum accessibility standard for all newly built homes to the ‘M4(2)’ standard of building regulations, but this has not been carried forward.

The LUHC recommends that the Building Safety Regulator should launch the required technical consultation immediately and the change to a higher minimum standard should be actioned as soon as possible.

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06 Feb 2024
Member voices heard at the House of Commons

Wheelchair users’ needs not considered

Only 1.9% of homes in England were planned to be built to wheelchair-user standard in 2020. Local authorities must do more to address the needs of disabled people when producing their local housing plans.

The report proposes that the UK Government should require all local authorities to assess the need for accessible housing in their area. Furthermore, all local plans in England should include a minimum percentage of M4(3) standard homes.

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22 Nov 2023
More new supported and specialist homes are needed

Shortcomings in Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)

In our response, Propertymark provided evidence of low awareness of the DFG and strongly encouraged the UK Government to promote the scheme to private landlords and their agents. 

The Committee identified further issues with the DFG system, including a complex means test, which caused many applicants to drop out of the process entirely.

Fundamentally, the £30,000 grant limit has not increased since 2008, making it inadequate to cover the costs of some adaptations and leaving individuals to fund the shortfall. There is also inconsistency in how the funding is distributed across local authorities, and the support and advice offered to residents in different areas. 

Evidence from an earlier review by the University of the West of England also highlighted unfairness between tenures, with a high proportion of grants going to social housing providers when increasing numbers of disabled people live in the private rented sector. This review was completed in 2018, but the UK Government has yet to respond to its recommendations.

Read the LUHC report in full