The number of disabled people on council housing waiting lists has almost doubled in the past two years, new research has revealed - while the average wait for an accessible home in some areas of Scotland is now more than 1000 days.
The new figures show there are now 17,444 people waiting for disabled-friendly housing, compared to a reported 9714 in 2017.
Leading housing and disability charities said the statistics, produced through Freedom of Information requests to councils by the Scottish Conservatives, underlined the need for a target to be set by the Scottish Government on the building of accessible homes.
The figures also show vast discrepancies between councils; Edinburgh has seen a massive hike from 491 to 6193 people needing accessible homes, Aberdeenshire has seen numbers rise from 14 to 876, Clackmannshire has seen its waiting list more than double from 219 to 468 and in Falkirk numbers have jumped from 385 to 2493.
However in Dundee the waiting list numbers have fallen from 681 to 101, in East Lothian they’ve dropped from 214 to 10 and in West Dunbartonshire they have reduced from 26 to just four people.
And the statistics reveal that, in some local authorities, the average wait for a home is longer than 1000 days, while in individual cases people have been forced to wait more than a decade for the right accommodation. Ian Buchanan, a Disability Equality Scotland manager, said: “I am not surprised by these numbers because there is a chronic lack of accessible housing in Scotland - and across the UK. There is no actual official target for accessible housing and that’s a problem. While it’s all well and good to build 50,000 new homes, there needs to be a firm commitment from the government to say how many accessible homes they will build.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We are living with the consequences of decades of under-investment in affordable social housing and people with disabilities are among those bearing the brunt.” He said new social housing had to include “a greater emphasis on accessibility and adaptability so people can find a home that suits their needs.”
Tory social security spokesperson Michelle Ballantyne said the SNP was presiding over a housing crisis. “The SNP pretends to be sincere when it comes to helping people with disabilities. But these facts expose the reality of the situation. The SNP has taken its eye off the ball domestically, and allowed a housing crisis to affect the country’s most vulnerable people. The Scottish Government clearly isn’t giving councils the resources they need to address this problem.” But Scottish Government housing minister, Kevin Stewart, said councils had received new guidance to support the setting of targets and the delivery of accessible housing. He added: “Everybody should have the right to live independently. We want disabled people in Scotland to have choice, dignity and freedom to access suitable homes, built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.”