Breaking barriers to better housing adaptations – action, policy and practice in Scotland

While not high on the political or media agenda, housing adaptations are a key challenge for many individuals, families, and services across Scotland. To this end, I’m delighted Horizon Housing Association is collaborating with CaCHE (Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence), HACT (Ideas and Innovation in Housing) and Stirling University to undertake a study into adaptions and make recommendations for positive change.

What are we planning to do?

We are looking at three areas, beginning with an evidence review on adaptations by CaCHE with input from Stirling University. We’ll also analyse the social value of adaptations, assessing the net benefits on individuals, their family and friends, and the impact on the state. HACT will lead on this part of the study in collaboration with Horizon and partners. Thirdly, we will develop a brief, which will build policy and practice recommendations from the findings. This work will be completed by the University of Stirling in partnership with CaCHE. Importantly, we will be closely consulting with people with disabilities and those closest to them throughout the study.

Why is this study needed?

Despite numerous reports and research, including Horizon’s Still Minding the Step (opens new window), disabled and older people still live in inaccessible housing and experience barriers when trying to arrange adaptations to enable them to live independently. Horizon’s report made specific recommendations, including: local authorities should set and monitor targets for new and adapted homes to wheelchair user standard; and the Scottish Government should review guidance to local authorities on use of the Scheme of Assistance. We are still waiting for these to be implemented fully.

We also had the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s formal inquiry on housing for disabled people in December 2016 which, among other things, found installing home adaptations involves unacceptable bureaucracy and delay and that there was significant evidence the timely installation of adaptations creates significant savings to the public purse.

Disabled people across Britain highlight the positive role adaptations play in making sure they can live independently. Yet, the Commission found the inequality in funding arrangements for adaptations in Scotland is a barrier to equality, so what we need is a review of the legislation; policy and funding for adaptations across tenure types is required. Again, we are still waiting for these recommendations to be fully implemented.

Importantly, Housing to 2040 (opens new window) promotes actions to support people with long-term conditions and disabilities to enable independence in a home of their own: ‘good quality and accessible by design or able to be easily adapted to allow people to live independently and with no barriers to participation’. It also commits to a review of adaptations and housing for varying needs standards and new building standards to underpin a Scottish Accessible Homes Standard. These are very welcome and need to involve disabled people and organisations in their development so we can see real-world outcomes.

When are we doing the work?

We’re starting the evidence review in September 2021 and plan to complete the other two areas between now and February 2022.

Visit the Horizon Housing website (opens new window) for more information. 

And, if you found this blog of interest, you can also read a number of Scottish policy documents, research findings, tools and good practice on specialist housing for older people in Scotland on the Housing LIN Scotland dedicated webpages.

Lastly, if you would like to find out more about how the Housing LIN can provide you with bespoke support or would like to contribute a guest blog on your personal or professional experience, please email us at:


Add your comment

Leave this field empty