1. ITV Report

Charity's urgent call for action over lack of disability-friendly homes

A leading charity says people are being shut out of their own bathrooms and bedrooms because of a failure to build disability-friendly homes.

Leonard Cheshire Disability has put out a call for urgent action from all political parties to commit to building more houses suitable for people with mobility problems.

In its report, The Hidden Housing Crisis, the charity saysmany disabled and older people are unable to live comfortably in their homes. And that those problems could be overcome with a few low-cost changes.

For example, nearly three-quarters of people reporting mobility problems say that the door to their property is not accessible, two-thirds do not have a bathroom large enough to fit a wheelchair into, and half do not have stairs big enough for a stair-lift to be fitted.

Elizabeth Foster, from Bury St Edmunds, had to wait nine years for a suitable house.

She has Multiple Sclerosis and relies in a wheelchair.

But she spent five years living in a two-storey house where she only had access to the kitchen, lounge and dining room.

Elizabeth, who now lives in a bungalow purpose-built for her by Suffolk County Council, was forced to wash at the kitchen sink, use a commode, and sleep in the dining room.

"It is truly shocking that, in 2014, disabled people are living in conditions reminiscent of the Victorian era. A strip wash at a kitchen sink is something that belongs in a period drama not Britain today. This is a hidden housing crisis which we must tackle head on."

– Clare Pelham, Chief Executive, Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Leonard Cheshire Disability said more than one in twenty people reporting mobility problems found it very difficult to sleep in their own beds because their bedrooms were out of reach.

The charity is today calling on all house builders and political parties to commit to building more disabled-friendly homes.

In particular, it wants them to make sure:

  • All new homes are easily adaptable - which it says costs only £1,000 extra per new home.
  • At least 10% of homes built in new large developments are fully wheelchair accessible - at a cost of £13,000 extra per new home.

Tanya Mercer reports.