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The Disability Housing Crisis

14 June 2023

The Disability Housing Crisis. For the last few decades, various decisions from government has potentially hard baked an increasingly worse disability housing crisis into England’s homes.

Even without considering disability, there is a housing crisis in the UK. Landlords are putting up rents, more people cannot afford to buy house buying, and former social housing tenants have bought much of the quality social housing due to Right to buy. Right to buy is the right of social housing tenants to buy their home if they have been there for 3 years. Housing associations and local councils have not been replacing of the loss of this housing stock (i.e., little building of new social housing).

What happened to the UK’s Social Housing?

The decrease in the number of social homes and the increased unaffordability of house buying has contributed to a boom for the private rented sector and to people making money off the provision of accommodation for others (i.e., landlordism). This situation has contributed both to increasing rents and to increasing house prices. Increased housing costs has also made the vast income inequality that exists in the UK worse. The richest top 10% of people in England have 75% of their wealth in property, either homes they keep empty (In the hope of selling them for more in future) or more usually properties they rent to others.

The shift from people owning homes to live in themselves, to more and more houses being owned by fewer people to make them money has meant that since 1980 house prices have risen by 1145%, while rents have risen by more than 300%. Further, housing benefit (which government pays for the housing of claimants) subsidises this private sector rather than helping produce affordable and social housing. This represents a transfer of government money to wealthy landlords.

The Disability Housing Crisis. How does this affect disabled people more?

Top Text reads – “What to fight for disability rights? Join Us!" Difference NE. Main title reads "The disability housing crisis" The back ground image is an arial photograph of the Byker Wall, coloured purple

So housing in the UK is not working for the majority, particularly those not able to buy their own home.

But disabled people are more affected!

  • Firstly, Scope’s Disability price tag research clearly shows the extra cost associated with living as a disabled person. Being systematically impoverished in this way means disabled people are less likely to be able to have the money needed to buy their own home.
  • Secondly, a system of future home provision skewed almost completely to chasing profit seems unable to ensure the adequate provision of accessible accommodation in the future. This is in the backdrop of already currently inadequate provision.

Figures from Homes For Us show that less than a quarter (23%) of new homes due to be built by 2030 are planned to be accessible, while only 1% are planned to be suitable for wheelchairs. The UK’s ageing population and the inescapable fact that everyone is probably going to become disabled means we will see further increasing demand on available housing happening before there is time to make more.

Look out for stories from Difference North East members coming in the next few weeks. Hear about their personal experience of The Disability Housing Crisis!

Have a story about housing to tell? Please get in touch!

Want to fight for disability rights? Join us!

The Disability Housing Crisis. Some more key statistics from Homes For Us!. These are the statistics that are in the above video! The only audio in the video is background music and can be muted.

  • Right to buy tenants have bought over 2 million social homes. Councils were only able to replace 4% of these.
  • On top of this, Councils and other social housing providers have demolished many more or converted them to less affordable rents.
  • Government consistently cuts money for social housing. In 2020/21, only 8% of homes the government funded were social rent.
  • Private developers prefer to build unaffordable ‘affordable’ rent or shared ownership tenures, which maximises their profits. Few councils can make them build the levels of social homes needed, and don’t have the money or structures to build themselves.
  • Outside London, The private sector builds most new properties in England, with a small number built by housing associations and local councils. These housing providers have only planned for under a quarter (23%) of these new homes (built by 2023) to be accessible.
  • Just 1% of homes outside London are set to be suitable for wheelchair users, despite 1.2 million wheelchair users.
  • 18.8% of Disabled people live in the private rented sector, yet according to the Office for National Statistics, only 6% of Disabled Facilities Grants go to private renters.
  • 98% of those [properties] advertised over a single month [2022] were beyond the means of people in receipt of universal credit or housing benefits.