The National Disability Strategy, which has been developed by including more than 14,000 people with disabilities as well as utilising disability organisations, businesses, and policy experts, will apply directly to disabled tenants.
A key component of the strategy is calling upon Access Ambassadors within the housing industry to use their influence in business to highlight areas where access for disabled consumers and employees can be improved.
Increased housing stock
The UK Government announced it will be taking steps to boost the supply of housing for disabled people, to be achieved through increasing the supply of affordable homes - including supported housing. A comprehensive plan for delivering new, accessible homes to be delivered is due to be finalised by December 2021.
Extending Equalities Act 2010
One key aspect of the strategy, to be implemented immediately, is raising accessibility standards for new homes as 47 per cent of respondents to the UK Disability Survey, conducted at the beginning of 2021, reported at least ‘some difficulty' getting in and out of their homes.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Governments (MHCLG) is aiming to accelerate the adaptation of existing homes through increasing the efficiency of local governments delivering the £573 million Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) across England and Wales.
Additionally, MHCLG will also be extending the rights of disabled people by bringing extending the Equality Act 2010 to allow disabled tenants the right to require landlords to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of residential buildings.
To support the extension of rights, tenants will be able to apply for financial support via the DFG, which can be used to pay for installing aids such as stair lifts and handrails or adapting things like heating systems to make them easier to use. But crucially, the DFG is means tested and requires a tenant to live at the property for a minimum of five years after the work has been carried out.
Improved safety measures for disabled residents
The National Disability Strategy also hopes to ensure the safety of disabled people by improving the provisions within England’s Building Regulations guidance through research commissioned by the MCHLG, due to conclude in Autumn 2021, around the means of escaping from buildings, care homes, and specialised housing for disabled people.