Welsh minister for climate change, Julie James, revealed on Tuesday that the Government is to launch a scheme in the new year which will target leaseholders who have found themselves in “significant” financial hardship. Full details of the strategy are yet to be published, but we urge policy-makers to expressly include disabled leaseholders who are trapped in inaccessible flats.
Last month, ITV News reported Anthony Kerrane’s story. Anthony became paralysed and needs to move as his flat is no longer suitable for his needs as a wheelchair user, particularly in light of his building’s unreliable lift. He is unable to move as his shared ownership flat is unsellable and has recently received a £100,000 bill for remediation works.
Most disabled people acquire their conditions during their lifetime or their conditions progress. Our housing needs change over time. This means that many people are needing to move to more suitable housing but cannot. One leaseholder told us: “I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018. My condition is deteriorating. It’s only a matter of time before I won’t be able to walk. I want to move into more suitable accommodation but my flat is unsellable.
Many disabled leaseholders are also diverting their savings from moving costs and adaptations to paying their cladding remediation bills.
Steve, a triple amputee, tells how his attempts to move from his flat to a more accessible home are on hold. “In 2019 I tried to purchase a larger apartment to better meet my needs, but was unable to get a mortgage due to EWS1. I am now trying to renovate and adapt a bungalow in an attempt to create a suitable home for myself. My building has been rejected by the Building Safety Fund and I’m anticipating a bill for around £25,000 to fix it. My life is expensive enough without this.”
Claddag co-founder, Sarah, has spent all savings which she had set aside for adaptations on cladding bills: “It’s almost impossible to get a disabled facilities grant so I saved hard to pay for a ceiling hoist, wetroom and any structural works I might need on a small bungalow nearer to my family – not only am I stuck in this flat, but those savings have all gone. I’m going to be trapped in this unsuitable flat for years.”
Claddag ask the Welsh Government to ensure disabled leaseholders living in flats which are inaccessible for them are included within their ‘buy-out’ policies. We also continue to implore Westminister to address our three asks and hope Michael Gove accepts our request for a meeting.