New research has revealed that building more wheelchair user homes for disabled people, from children to adults over 66, could save the public purse millions over a 10-year period.
In research commissioned by Habinteg Housing Association, the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science Housing and Communities research group interviewed people from three household type and analysed publicly available data to discover the value to society and the economy of building new wheelchair user homes.
The research revealed that the additional cost of building a wheelchair user home – instead of an accessible & adaptable home - for a typical disabled adult of working age is around £22,000, with the potential ten-year financial and social benefit to the individual and the public purse being around £94,000.
For a household with a child who is a wheelchair user, the ten-year economic and social benefit is around £66,000, with an additional cost of around £26,000 to build a new wheelchair user home.
For a typical older wheelchair user household, the ten-year financial and social benefit is around £101,000, with a new wheelchair user home costing around an additional £18,000.
“This new research reveals a clear and powerful economic case for wheelchair accessible homes that must not be ignored,” said Nick Apetroaie, Habinteg’s CEO.
“Behind the numbers we must not forget that the shortage of wheelchair accessible properties has a profound negative impact on people’s daily lives. It’s not acceptable for society to expect wheelchair users and their families to ‘make do’ in homes which limit their independence, dignity and overall life opportunities.
“We’re calling on the government and relevant agencies to set a clear requirement for every local authority to create a robust plan for new wheelchair accessible homes. Without this we will be literally building inequality into housing stock, not only at great personal cost to individuals and households but also, in the medium to long term, to the public purse, too.”
New wheelchair accessible properties (known as M4(3) in building regulations) are built when Local Plans set a target within their housing policies. At present of England’s 325 Local Plans, 162 have no target included for such homes.
The full summary report, Living not existing: The social value of wheelchair user homes, is available at www.habinteg.org.uk