The national membership organisation that brings together, and advocates for, its members with learning disabilities found that many people with a learning disability have a home that suits their needs, is affordable, and allows them to easily connect with friends and family. However, others are let down by local authorities and experience a postcode lottery of available services – and many find it difficult to access social care support and get housing in areas close to their friends and family.
Give people with learning disabilities agency in where they live
Gary Bourlet, a co-founder of Learning Disability England, wrote in a blog article about the report that ‘it’s really important that people with learning disabilities have a choice of types of housing they can live in’. He also wrote that people with a learning disability should become more involved in the process of decision making, as to whether the housing offered to them works for them.
Members expressed that living on low incomes or on Universal Credit meant that many people had a lot less choice about the areas that they could live, and therefore makes it harder for them to keep the kind of home that is suitable to their needs. And also reported that they do not have easy access to information about different housing options or to advocates who would understand their housing rights.
All too often decisions about housing have not made based on what people with learning disabilities want or need, and people are simply ‘placed in accommodation’, as well as being denied any real options as to who they live with and what support they will be given. And depending on the local authority, there sometimes is no regional planning about what housing people require.
Joie Williams, who has a learning disability and is Voice Chair of LDE Board of Trustees, expressed her own personal experience in a video: “[In my last house] a lot of the time I was alone and couldn’t have friends round… It was difficult for my fiancé to visit… I couldn’t have my dog, and I felt quite unsafe.”
The report identified some critical actions that need to be addressed by policymakers:
New housing development should focus on the most disadvantaged
People should be able to live close to their loved ones
Information about housing options should be available in an Easy Read format
Advocacy should be available for people who don’t have family to support them to exercise their housing rights
More support is vital when people first move into their homes
Access to services needs to be standardised across England
A more flexible system should be shown regarding rent payments
A quicker and less bureaucratic way of accessing grant funding
There should be the promotion of tenancies that don’t require a Court of Protection appointed deputy.
In response to the report Dan Scorer, Head of Policy, at the learning disability charity Mencap, said: “People with a learning disability have a right to live independently and many want to live in their own homes so they can lead happy and healthy lives. However, there are still people locked away in inpatient units, due to the lack of access to suitable housing and lack of support available.”
“We urgently need to see departments across government working together to develop the right housing and social care support for people with a learning disability, including helping people to transition smoothly into their own home if it’s right for them.”