Below are a full list of the questions asked and the responses from Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Pidgeon and Green Party candidate Sian Berry. (Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, was contacted numerous times but declined to comment).
If you are looking for an accessible home in London, you can use TheHouseShop.com to search thousands of properties to rent and for sale in and around London, many of which include accessible adaptations and improvements.
1. Will you commit to maintaining and improving the accessible housing policies currently laid out in the London Plan (i.e. all new build developments built to Lifetime Homes standard and minimum 10% wheelchair accessible requirement)?
2. How does accessible housing fit into your plan for the future of London’s housing market?
3. What are your thoughts on how we could ensure that newly built accessible homes are effectively connected with disabled buyers? Does she agree with the failure to train front-line sales and marketing teams identified in our report?
1. "Yes. It’s really important the new homes we build for Londoners are not only accessibly financially, but accessible for those with disabilities. I’ll make sure, as Mayor, that all new developments are built to Lifetime Homes standard and 1 in 10 of all new units are wheelchair accessible."
2. "I want to build the truly affordable homes to buy and rent that Londoners need, and this includes accessible homes for those who need them. The housing crisis in London means thousands of Londoners can’t afford to rent or buy, and they’re being forced out of the city. I’m making the Mayoral election a referendum on the housing crisis, and if I’m elected, I’ll set up a dedicated team in City Hall on day one called Homes for Londoners who’ll crack on with building the homes we need as a city, including those accessible for people with disabilities."
3. "Delivering accessible homes is only the beginning. It’s absolutely crucial that we make sure disabled buyers know where they are, and are able to buy them, and that those marketing them do so properly so that disabled buyers can be linked up with them. If I become Mayor, I’ll work closely with all of the relevant charities and campaigns to make sure that everyone involved in the process is matching supply of and demand for accessible homes."
1. "Absolutely. Making sure that everyone in London has access to affordable, secure, and decent housing is a priority for the Green Party in this election and that means, at least, implementing the strategies that have already been agreed to improve the accessibility of London’s housing. We really welcome this report from TheHouseShop because it demonstrates the urgent need for action to ensure that these existing plans are being implemented to the benefit of London’s disabled community. "
2. "The London Plan provides us with a starting point for improving the stock of accessible housing but I also believe we can be much bolder and in Camden I have put forward proposals for new development to meet the lifetime neighbourhoods principles, which are a wider set of standards aimed at ensuring local areas are welcoming and accessible to older people and people with disabilities in other ways – for example through green space, digital inclusion facilities and ensuring services are located within communities.
As a transport campaigner, I know that making cities more accessible is not just about fixing problems in isolation - we need a joined up approach. "
3. "I completely agree. Across so many areas of policy we see that the letter of the law - designed to improve the lives of people - is not being implemented simply because staff are not being trained or taught about these important pieces of legislation. That’s not the fault of the staff delivering front-line services but it does mean that people end up not having their rights respected. I’d want to tackle the root of the problem, making sure that the managers and owners of new developments are aware of legislation and helping local authorities to hold those businesses to account."
"In London and across the country there is a clear lack of housing - of all forms of tenure - that is accessible for wheelchair users and other disabled people. Only recently Muscular Dystrophy UK shone a spotlight on the national situation in their report Breaking Point, which highlighted that over a third of individuals and families faced debt and serious financial hardship when trying to fund vital adaptations for their homes. Country-wide Freedom of Information requests that they submitted uncovered councils with over a hundred households waiting for wheelchair-accessible homes, without a single available property on their housing registers. This included 166 families or individuals waiting in Harlow, 155 in Blackburn and 122 in the London Borough of Camden.
Against this background we also need to recognise that we are living longer and while that it is incredibly welcome it does mean that more people will have a disability in the future, as the incidence of so many disabilities is age related. We should take heed of the wise words of Alf Morris, the UK’s first disability minister, who quite rightly highlighted how some form of disability could face nearly all of us in old age when he bluntly stated: “die young or join the club”.
I am therefore firmly committed as the Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate to at least maintaining the present accessible housing policies currently laid out in the London Plan of ensuring all new build developments meet minimum Lifetime Homes standards, and with a minimum 10% of developments being wheelchair accessible.
However these policies, while vital, are not alone sufficient. TheHouseShop has provided a valuable service in drawing attention to the specific problems relating to the poor marketing of accessible homes that are for sale. It is for example quite unacceptable that sales representatives don’t even understand the basic difference between Lifetime homes (which are built to be easily adaptable) and homes that are already wheelchair accessible.
Accessibility of properties should be seen as a selling point, yet at present it seems far too many staff involved in selling properties are poorly informed and unable to help match the needs of disabled people with the accessible properties that are actually now being built. Providing comprehensive information and training for staff who are marketing and selling new homes is essential.
Finally, we should also go further. When buying electrical goods we have detailed information, provided in a ratings system, of their energy consumption.
Ensuring that similar usable information about accessibility is at hand for any home buyer must be the next step forward. I look forward to TheHouseShop developing and implementing a set of standardised accessibility rankings that will appear on all their listings and will allow disabled people to quickly and easily determine whether a property meeting their needs. Such a development should be matched by the Mayor of London taking further steps to ensure that accessibility ratings are included in the Mayor’s FIRST STEP programme."