The UK organisation for accessible housing, Habinteg, has released new research on the social and economic value of wheelchair users homes. The research was carried out by the London School of Economics. They did a cost-benefit analysis of wheelchair user housing and a qualitative analysis of how their home impacts wheelchair users in everyday life. Together they showed benefits, particularly to government, outweighed the costs.
“… it’s not just the quality
of accommodation and its suitableness for living, but it’s affecting everything else to do with my life.”
“I was living a life that I chose to live, not one that was chosen for me.”
The UK already has a mandated standard of basic access features in new housing called Visitable dwellings. This covers door widths and corridors. However, it fails to guarantee true visitability to everyone and is not adaptable for households over time. There are two other standards which are not mandatory: accessible and adaptable dwellings, and wheelchair user dwellings.
The cost-benefit analysis used three models based on three groups of wheelchair user households.:
- Households with children who use wheelchairs
- Working aged, wheelchair user households
- People in later life who use wheelchairs (aged 65+)
They found that a working age wheelchair user, the benefit was £94,000 over a ten year period. A later years household was £101,000 over a ten year period, and for a child, the benefit was £67,000 over ten years. The financial value was divided between health, local government and the national government.
Benefits of wheelchair housing
The interviews with wheelchair users revealed the personal benefits of improved quality of life. Of being able to work, to come and go independently, and have peace of mind. Being able to work provides additional disposable income and tax revenue for the government. It also means less welfare payments and hours of home care services.
The title of the report is, Living not existing: The economic and social value of wheelchair user homes. The quotes from wheelchair users really tell the story of the difference between existence and living. The analysis shows that when it comes to cost, the real question is, how much and who pays?