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HousingNEW evidence suggests house builders should take disability more seriously and tap into a huge and rapidly growing market when designing new homes.

A report from the London School of Economics challenges assumptions about the potential for disabled people to buy their own home – and highlights the growing appeal of homes that deliver higher quality accessible features.

Key findings include:

  • Of the 1.8 million disabled people needing accessible homes, 56% are homeowners with 39% having incomes in the top half of the income distribution.
  • 19% of the British public would most favour moving to a different property specifically designed or adapted to enable them to live independently in later life.
  • Nearly half of the British public (47%) say they would be more likely to consider moving to a property if it had a downstairs bathroom.
  • More than a third of the British public would be more likely to consider a property if it had adaptations to make it easier to use a bathroom, or step free access at the front of the property.

When surveyed on potential later life housing needs, fewer than 1 in 10 of the public (6%) say they would most favour moving to specialist care and supported housing, while the majority (59%) of disabled people who are 65 and over say that they will personally need some accessible housing features in the next five years.

Vicky McDermott, chief executive of Papworth Trust, said: “It has been widely assumed that disabled people do not have the means or money to purchase their own home. This report clearly dispels this myth and shows the demand for buying accessible homes, and the opportunity for developers to look again at their market.

“Papworth Trust’s and Habinteg’s on-going extensive research looks into the housing market, but also the impact the lack of accessible homes creates, highlighting the fact that people living in inaccessible homes are four times more likely to be unemployed.

“Building more accessible homes is a fundamental part of future-proofing the housing market, with a short term investment and a long term positive social impact on other services.”

Paul Gamble, chief executive of Habinteg, said: “New homes that are accessible, affordable and available must play a part in addressing the long term demands of UK housing policy, especially as the population ages. We’re hoping to see a new commitment to this from the Government, local authorities and developers from now on.”

The full report is available here:

http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cr/casereport109.pdf