Mind the Step

Wheelchair users face particular design and accessibility barriers, both in and around the home and in the wider environment.

Mind the Step presents a national estimate of housing need among wheelchair users in Scotland. This includes people who use their wheelchair outdoors only, as well as those using a wheelchair indoors.

Analysis based on the Scottish House Condition Survey 2009/10 shows that there are around 119,800 households with a wheelchair user in Scotland (5.1% of all households).

Applying the Mind the Step calculation for both ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoors only’ wheelchair users, the estimate of the number of wheelchair user households in Scotland with unmet housing needs is 17,042 (14.2% of all wheelchair user households).

Many wheelchair users who have difficulties with their housing will need or prefer to have adaptations carried out to their existing property, while others will want to move to a different property – in some cases to set up a new household.

There are three solutions, which should be strategically interlinked: development of new wheelchair standard homes for owner-occupiers and tenants; support for home adaptations across tenures; and efficient allocation of accessible and adaptable homes in affordable and social rented sectors.

There are few references to wheelchair user housing in policy documents on independent living, personalisation of services, reshaping care for older people, economic inclusion, community planning and neighbourhood renewal.

There have been significant moves in some areas to improve housing choice and mobility but progress is hampered by various factors, such as: lack of information on accessible homes and on the need for these; inefficient use of vacant properties; low priority given to the need for independent living; inflexible financing of adaptations and care/support services.