50,000 new homes: let's make them accessible

This article has been taken from GCIL’s Scottish Housing and Disability News (

The SNP have pledged to invest £3bn to build 50,000 more homes over the next four-year parliament if they win the next election.

We understand that 35,000 houses will be in the social rented sector with 15,000 for private sale or rent.

“Making sure that everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to our government’s drive to make this country fairer and more prosperous,” the First Minster said in her keynote speech to conference late last year.

As Scottish Government’s key strategic partners on housing and disability issues, Capability Scotland and Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living warmly welcome these proposals, given the shortage of affordable housing in Scotland.

Our key ask of the SNP government however is to ensure that a proportion of these new houses are built to wheelchair standard.

Through our housing advice and consultancy work we are very aware that disabled people, particularly those with mobility impairments find the current housing stock in Scotland hugely problematic in terms of access. We have cases where wheelchair users are unable to cook, wash or use the toilet in their own home. This can have direct human rights implications in terms of a disabled person’s right to independent living and a right to family life.

Households that include a wheelchair user can find it extremely difficult to find a suitable house or to adapt their home to the needs of a disabled person. We have cases of homeowners being forced to sell their home and move back into the social rented sector because of a shortage of wheelchair accessible housing for private sale across Scotland.

A 2012 report Mind the Step by Horizon Housing Association and Habinteg Housing Association estimates that one in four wheelchair users in Scotland live in unsuitable housing and over 17,000 wheelchair user households are in significant housing need.

When we surveyed over 500 disabled people in 2015, 73% of respondents felt that disabled people do not have equal access to suitable housing, with the main barrier perceived as not enough new-build accessible housing.

This pledge to provide 50,000 new homes therefore provides an ideal opportunity for the Scottish Government to begin addressing this shortfall and build houses that meet the needs of disabled people across Scotland.

We are working in partnership with the Independent Living in Scotland Project, Inclusion Scotland, Scottish Disability Equality Forum and the Scottish Older People’s Assembly to campaign for more wheelchair accessible housing.

This Housing Statement of Ambition group is calling on the Scottish Government to commit to ensuring that 10% of new housing in developments over 20 units is built to wheelchair standard as defined by Housing to Varying Needs.

If you would like more information about our housing policy and campaigning work in this area please contact Susie Fitton, Senior Policy Adviser on 0131 347 1043 or at