Thousands of disabled council tenants ‘in unsuitable homes’

More than 10,000 disabled people in Scotland are stuck in unsuitable council houses, with some still on waiting lists despite requesting a move decades ago, a new investigation has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information request carried out by showed that one disabled person in Stirling has been waiting for a more suitable council house for almost half a century, having first requested a change of property in 1969.

In Moray, a disabled person has been waiting since 1978, while in East Dunbartonshire someone has been on the council’s waiting list since 1989.

The figures were obtained through Freedom of Information requests to all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities. The 26 responses show that 9,714 disabled people are on council waiting lists having requested a move to a more suitable property, such as a ground-floor flat.

In Glasgow 1,979 disabled people have requested moving to more accessible accommodation with backlogs also being reported in other parts of the country.

Scottish Government figures show that between 2008 and 2016, only 1,427 of 132,994 newly built houses were designed for wheelchair users, just over 1%.

Grant Carson, director of employment and housing services at the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, is calling for the Scottish Government to set a specific target for accessible housing within its existing aim of building at least 50,000 affordable homes across the country by 2021.

He said: “It’s a mystery to me why they’ve not done more.

“The bottom line is there is a chronic shortage of accessible accommodation in Scotland. The government has failed to do anything about it. I would describe it as systemic failure.”

Marianne Scobie, deputy CEO of the Glasgow Disability Alliance, said the figures were shocking but that it was “not uncommon” for disabled people to be living in homes they could not get in and out of unaided.

She added: “If the government wants more disabled people to be working and taking part in society, the starting point is to be in a house that meets your needs.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We want disabled people in Scotland to have access to homes built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens. Our Disability Delivery Plan sets out a number of housing-related commitments that support this ambition.”

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