Disabled people have been left “demoralised and frustrated” by the housing system and face a “chronic shortage” of accessible homes, according to a new report by the equality and human rights watchdog.More than 350,000 disabled people in England have unmet housing needs, with one-third of those in rented accommodation living in unsuitable properties, says the report.There are also about 17,000 wheelchair-users in Scotland with unmet housing needs, while there is “a severe shortage” of accessible and wheelchair-accessible housing in Wales.Despite this, fewer than one in four local authorities (22 per cent) have an accessible housing register, while only 28 per cent have a target for accessible housing.The report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) follows an 18-month formal inquiry and calls on the government to draw up a national strategy to ensure an adequate supply of new homes built to inclusive design standards.The report – Housing and disabled people: Britain’s hidden crisis – also says there is “unacceptable bureaucracy and delay” in the system of installing home adaptations.EHRC published separate reports on the crisis in housing for disabled people in both Scotland and Wales.The report on Britain warns of “insufficient attention given to those currently in residential care who wish to live independently and could do so with the right support”.And it says that provision of advice, support and advocacy is “patchy”, with disabled people reporting that they have nowhere to turn when in crisis or when their housing is unsuitable, while navigating the complex systems for allocating housing and securing adaptations is “stressful and challenging”.It concludes: “Progress to ensure that disabled people have accessible homes that support their right to independent living is unlikely to be made unless disabled people are actively engaged in shaping housing policy and practice.”And it adds: “The human and economic costs of inaccessible housing can be avoided if disabled people’s requirements are identified and built into planning and delivery of new housing supply.”The inquiry heard accounts of disabled people eating, sleeping and bathing in one room, and of having to be carried around their inaccessible homes by relatives.One disabled person who contributed to the inquiry said they had not been outside their second-floor flat since 2011 – apart from essential hospital trips – because there was no lift and the flat was not wheelchair-accessible.A second respondent to the inquiry’s call for evidence described how they were unable to access their children’s room and other parts of the house and could not use their wheelchair because their home was so inaccessible.And one disabled respondent said: “I have been on my local authority [housing] list for seven years, but there has never been a suitable property available in that time.“So for the past two years I have been reduced to having my hair washed in a bowl while sat on my toilet.”The report says that while more than two-thirds of local authorities say that developers do not always comply with accessibility requirements, only seven local authorities (three per cent) have taken action against a developer in the last three years.In addition to the demand for a national strategy, the report calls on the UK government to produce mandatory planning guidance for local authorities on assessing need and delivering accessible and adaptable housing, and wheelchair-accessible housing.And it says the government should amend building regulations so that the optional M4(2) accessibility standard – a series of design criteria intended to make homes more easily adaptable for lifetime use – is instead a mandatory minimum standard for all new housing.Government figures show this would increase construction costs by just £1,100 per home.It also says the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments should all require local authorities to ensure a minimum of 10 per cent of new-build homes are built to higher wheelchair-accessible standards.And it says the three governments should provide funding to disabled people’s organisations and advice agencies so they can increase provision of independent advice and information on housing.The report welcomes the UK government’s decision to increase funding for disabled facilities grants (DFGs) from £220 million in 2015-16 to £505 million in 2019-20 and incorporate the funding into a joint health and social care budget, the Better Care Fund, with the aim of doubling the number of grants to 85,000 by 2020.DFGs provide funding to make disabled people’s homes more accessible, for example by widening doorways, installing ramps or providing a downstairs bathroom.But the report adds: “The increase in funding is an important step, but we heard evidence that the slow and cumbersome nature of the DFG process often leads to people spending extended periods in hospital beyond their discharge date or being discharged into unsuitable accommodation.”EHRC says its findings “raise alarming concerns that disabled people’s right to independent living is being heavily restricted by unsuitable and unsafe housing”.The findings mirror those of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD), which highlighted concerns last August about possible breaches in Britain of both article nine (on accessibility) and article 19 (on independent living) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.CRPD warned that austerity measures had “hindered the advancement of accessibility” and raised concerns about “the reduction in social protection schemes related to housing, household income and budgets for independent living”.Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “This research shows some of the fundamental issues we face on a day-to-day basis.“Appropriate housing is key to independent living and creating choice and control for disabled people.“But it’s also better for the tax payer. Better housing options mean disabled people are less likely to seek support from hard-pressed health and social care providers.“The same is true if we develop ways to ensure the swift provision of aids and adaptations when people become disabled.“We need clear standards for developers and designers so we begin to see the establishment of more lifetime homes; and better policing and support for private landlords, who have a huge slice of the rental market.”Heather Fisken, manager of Independent Living in Scotland, which is part of Inclusion Scotland, said: “This is indeed a hidden crisis. Disabled people living in unsuitable housing are denied their human rights to participate in and contribute to their communities. “Living in inaccessible housing can mean not getting outside at all or only rarely, or even being forced to move to a care home.“The EHRC’s recommendations echo Inclusion Scotland’s own report Our Place, Our Space which called on Scottish government to introduce a national target for new build houses built to wheelchair accessible standards, and for a new accessible housing design standard. “Without urgent policy change and investment, the situation is set to get worse as the population ages and housing stocks depreciate.”Disability Wales also welcomed the reports and called for “urgent action”.A Disability Wales spokesperson said: “There are far too many examples where disabled people are unable to move around their own home due to its inaccessibility. “This is having a huge impact on disabled people’s health and well-being, their ability to engage in community life and access employment.“Having a suitable place to live is a basic need and a human right.”The EHRC reports come less than two months after the government rejected a series of recommendations made by the Commons women and equalities committee, following its inquiry on disability and the built environment.Maria Miller, the Tory MP who chairs that committee, said the government’s decision to reject those recommendations had left disabled people to face “unacceptable barriers to independent living, often making them feel isolated and forgotten”.She said: “I welcome the findings of this inquiry and hope that it will act as another much-needed wake up call for ministers.”A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government said: “We realise many disabled people can face a variety of obstacles in their daily lives, but we’re clear that their homes should not be one of these.“That’s why we’re providing councils with almost £1 billion over the next two years to adapt properties for disabled people so they can live independently and safely.“Our planning rules make clear councils must take the needs of elderly and disabled people into account when planning new homes in their area.”Picture © Equality and Human Rights Commission
SAINTS travel to Leeds Rhinos tomorrow to rekindle one of the best and fiercest rivalries in the game.The two sides have locked horns 52 times in Super League with Saints edging the ‘head to head’ by four matches.That includes wins in the 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2008 play-offs too – a good omen for Nathan Brown’s side.Friday’s game will be only the second time the clubs have met in the play-offs at Headingley; Leeds emerging victorious in the 1998 Final Eliminator.But St Helens have won on their last three visits to Headingley and you can see our last victory below!It all adds up to a tasty clash and tickets remain on sale.You can buy from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
SAINTS fielded their strongest Reserves side of the season so far and were rewarded with their biggest win of the season, writes Graham Henthorne.Seven tries in each half made for a massive 76-20 victory but the most pleasing aspect of the performance for Coach Ian Talbot was that the players, for the most part, performed to the best of their ability.The match was probably over as a contest as early as the seventh minute as Travis Burns converted the third of the Saints tries to open an eighteen point lead. And it really was like shelling peas as the Saints ripped the paper thin Wire defence to shreds.Calvin Wellington scored two of his eventual hat-trick of tries in this period. The first came from a delightful pass from Jordan Turner who committed the defender before feeding Wellington who stepped inside to score.His second came from a Jonah Cunningham dart out from dummy half, he passed it on to Turner who this time dummied his way through to put Wellington in at the corner.Sandwiched in between Matty Fleming marked his return from injury with a great try from deep. From the kick off three drives had taken the Saints to the 20 metre line but on the fourth quick hands spun the ball right. Andre Savelio and Fleming put Jake Spedding away and he outstripped his more illustrious opposite number and ex-Saint Corey Lee over 50 metres. His inside ball found Savelio again who tipped it back outside for Fleming to go over.Savelio and Turner again did the damage for Saints fourth try allowing Tom Connick to offload out of the tackle to give Ricky Bailey the chance to take three over with him.As the points started to flow at will the Saints began to lose a little focus allowing the visitors to score.This jolted the Saints back into gear as Fleming scored his second after Ross McCauley and Savelio were held short.The Wolves were finding it difficult to hold McCauley and it was his break and offload down the middle of the park which led to the Saints sixth try. Tom Connick it was who took play on before Grace was eventually stopped short. On the last Burns’ grubber was seized upon by Dave Llewellyn for his first try in the red vee.From the kick off a Burns 40/20 gave the Saints great field position to allow Aaron Smith to barge his way over.There was just time before the break for a questionable forward pass decision to rob us of the site of big Ross lumbering his way 60 metres downfield before splattering the full back out of the way on his way to score.A point a minute in the first half looked as if it was going to be upheld in the second as the Saints scored three times in the opening 15 minutes. Turner scored a well-deserved try of his own as he stretched out to score before two Tommi Hughes scores. The first he burst onto a ball 20 metres out at pace to score, the second came courtesy of a Turner break.A one on one strip from debutant trialist prop Tom Whittle allowed Cunningham to jump out of dummy half and put Jack Ashworth in at the right corner.Hughes completed his hat-trick inside 13 minutes with a spectacular 70 metre run to the line. Tom Connick sold an outrageous dummy to allow himself through unopposed and Wellington dove into the corner to complete his hat-trick after yet another Hughes run.There was just enough time left for the Wolves to have the final say in the result with a try in the left corner.In truth this was too easy all round. The visitors couldn’t handle the power of Savelio and McCauley and had no answer for the speed both of thought and action of the rest of the team.The Saints did very well to manage the expectations of the fans on seeing the team. They could so easily have found it difficult to motivate themselves but despite a few uncalled for errors the Saints dominated their nearest rivals in every department.This should give the club all the impetus needed to keep the 100% record intact when they visit their oldest rivals in a fortnight.The club would like to thank the Wolves for fulfilling the fixture and sending what was a clearly depleted team over to Langtree Park.We understand, with injuries, that this can happen at the Reserve level and the tables could be turned at any point in the future. The players who appeared for Warrington were a credit to the club and we thank them for taking part in the fixture.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Calvin Wellington (2, 7 & 75), Matty Fleming (4 & 27), Ricky Bailey (15), Dave Llewellyn (33), Aaron Smith (35), Jordan Turner (47), Tommi Hughes (52, 55 & 63), Jack Ashworth (60), Tom Connick (71).Goals: Travis Burns 9, Danny Richardson.Warrington:Tries: Charlie Phythian (21), Alex Whalley (39), David Thompson (57), Harvey Livett (80).Goals: Harvey Livett 2.Half Time: 40-10Full Time: 76-20Teams:Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Jake Spedding, 3. Matty Fleming, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Travis Burns, 15. Tom Connick; 20. Andre Savelio, 9. Jonah Cunningham, 10. Olly Davies, 11. Jack Ashworth, 12. Jordan Turner, 13. Lewis Charnock. Subs: 7. Danny Richardson, 8. Levy Nzoungou, 14. Aaron Smith, 16. Tommi Hughes, 17. Dave Llewellyn, 18. Tom Whittle, 19. Ross McCauley.Warrington:1. Declan Kay; 2. David Thompson, 3. Richard Harris, 4. Charlie Phythian, 5. Corey Lee; 6. Harvey Livett, 7. Tyler Whittaker; 8. Daniel Murray, 9. Sean Kenny, 10. Andy Philbin, 11. Danny Rasool, 12. Jacque Peet, 19. Joe Ryan. Subs: 14. Alex Whalley, 15. Jack Francis, 16. James Dandy, 17. Pat Moran.