Call for action as number of people with disabilities on housing waiting lists soars
The Scottish Government has been urged to set a target for new disabled housing after research found that the number of disabled people on housing waiting lists has risen by almost 80% in the last two years.
Figures obtained by freedom of information requests from 23 of the country’s 32 local councils revealed that there are now 17,444 people waiting to move to a more suitable house, compared to 9,714 at the end of 2017.
In some areas the average wait for a home is more than 1,000 days, while in some cases people have been waiting for more than a decade for the right accommodation.
The average wait for an appropriate home ranges from four days in West Dunbartonshire to 6,193 days in Edinburgh.
Housing and disability charities said the statistics underlined the need for a target to be set by the Scottish Government on the building of accessible homes.
Ian Buchanan, a Disability Equality Scotland manager, said: “I am not surprised by these numbers because there is a chronic lack of accessible housing in Scotland - and across the UK. There is no actual official target for accessible housing and that’s a problem. While it’s all well and good to build 50,000 new homes, there needs to be a firm commitment from the government to say how many accessible homes they will build.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We are living with the consequences of decades of under-investment in affordable social housing and people with disabilities are among those bearing the brunt.”
He said new social housing had to include “a greater emphasis on accessibility and adaptability so people can find a home that suits their needs.”
Michelle Ballantyne, social security spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, which obtained the statistics, added: “The SNP pretends to be sincere when it comes to helping people with disabilities.
“But these facts expose the reality of the situation. Not only are there far too many disabled people waiting for the right housing, that number has nearly doubled in just the last two years.
“It proves the SNP has taken its eye off the ball domestically and allowed a housing crisis to affect the country’s most vulnerable people.
“The Scottish Government clearly isn’t giving councils the resources they need to address this problem.”
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Everybody should have the right to live independently.
“We want disabled people in Scotland to have choice, dignity and freedom to access suitable homes, built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.
“We have recently published new practical guidance for local authorities, which will support the delivery of more wheelchair accessible housing.
“The guidance requires local authorities to set targets across all housing tenures for the delivery of wheelchair-accessible homes and to report annually on progress.”
He added: “We’re also working with health and social care partnerships, disability organisations and the housing sector to ensure those in need of adaptations to their home can access services.
“I have made it clear to local authorities and housing associations that grant subsidy flexibilities in the Affordable Housing Supply Programme should be seen as a catalyst to deliver more specialist housing where it is needed.”