A second reading was given to a private member's Bill designed to secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing in England by the Secretary of State, and to introduce three new exemptions to the application of the under-occupation deduction from housing benefit (or the housing element of universal credit) for claimants who were deemed to be under-occupying their social rented homes (frequently referred to as the 'spare room subsidy' or the 'bedroom tax'). The housing benefit exemptions would apply in England, Wales, and Scotland to: certain disabled occupiers in adapted accommodation; certain disabled occupants in receipt of disability living allowance or personal independence payment who were not able to share a bedroom; and all claimants where their landlord or local authority had not made a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation.
Source: Affordable Homes Bill, Andrew George MP, TSO | Debate 5 September 2014, columns 550-611, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
A think-tank report provided the findings from the Commission on Residential Care, which drew on academics, practitioners, and other experts to consider the future of residential care (including care homes, extra care villages, and supported living) for older people and people with disabilities in England. It said that there was much innovative and excellent practice in the sector, but negative public perceptions were widespread, with care settings often seen as a last resort option. The report made extensive recommendations, including: for a broader definition of 'housing with care' to be adopted within government policy; for changes in the approach to funding; for the redefinition of residential status in care homes (to provide people with tenancies); for consideration of co-operative, mutual, or profit sharing ownership models; for co-location of care settings with other community services; for an expanded role for the Care Quality Commission; and for workforce-related changes, including payment of a living wage and the introduction of a licence to practice for care staff.
Source: The Commission on Residential Care, Demos
A report said that older people were often living in unsuitable and inflexible housing, and that there were delays in making appropriate adaptations and repairs, which sometimes delayed hospital discharges. The report made a range of recommendations, including calling on the government to build all new housing to higher accessibility standards, for an older person's contact with healthcare services to trigger an automatic assessment of their home, and for central and local government to work together to develop a range of more flexible options for housing in later life.
Source: Joe Oldman, Housing in Later Life, Age UK
A report said that thousands of people with disabilities were living in accommodation that did not meet their needs. It called for: all new homes to be built to Lifetime Homes Standards; 10 per cent of large developments to be built to wheelchair access standards; any new 'garden cities' to be beacons of good practice for accessibility; all local authorities to maintain a register of accessible housing; and the reform of housing-related regulations/legislation (including section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), the Community Infrastructure Levy, and the New Homes Bonus), to increase the supply of disability-friendly homes.
Source: The Hidden Housing Crisis, Leonard Cheshire
A private member's Bill was published that was designed to improve access to public buildings and to introduce six and twelve inch rules for step-free access.
Source: Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, Lord Blencathra, TSO
An article examined how a people-centred, design-led approach could enhance quality of life of adults with autism through informing the design of space, objects, and activities. It looked at three projects that had developed such methods. The journal also published a short commentary on the article, by Tony Osgood.
Source: C Lowe, Kate Gaudion, Chris McGinley, and Alex Kew, 'Designing living environments with adults with autism', Tizard Learning Disability Review, Volume 19 Number 2
An article examined a knowledge transfer programme that aimed to enhance understanding of the impact of changes in the built environment on the care provision for, and quality of life of, people with disabilities. The programme was established with a care provider in Scotland to transfer knowledge between service staff and an academic institution. The article described the programme, and its value for the service provider.
Source: Paul Jenkins, Harry Smith, Marcia Pereira, and Andy Challen, 'Underpinning reflective practice in social care and housing provision through collaborative knowledge exchange', Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 29 Number 1