The father of two approached Southampton City Council back in 2020 to install a shower in the bathroom due to his health issues, but no work has been undertaken
Image: Daily Echo/Solent News)
A retired milkman claims he has been unable to shower or bath for two years due to council delays in installing a shower in his flat.
Michael Davey, 56, from Southampton, struggles to get upstairs due to his arthritis and other health issues. He can no longer use the bath and instead relies on bed baths given to him by his wife from him Stella.
The father of two approached Southampton City Council back in 2020 to install a shower in the bathroom due to his health issues, but no work has been undertaken.
He said: “I was told I’d have to move to another property before any internal adaptations would take place, but none of the homes I viewed online was suitable for a disabled person.
“I haven’t had a shower or bath in two years. I feel I’ve been ignored by the council.”
In order to fund improvements, people applying for a means-tested Disabled Facilities Grant must have their needs assessed by an occupational therapist.
And Southampton is one of ten council areas in England and Wales where disabled people wait on average more than a year before they can submit an application, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ).
Once applicants apply, they can then wait a further 18 months for the work to be started, which for Michael is a long time to wait.
Fazilet Hadi, of Disability Rights UK, said disabled people often found it difficult to complete simple everyday actions that others took for granted.
“It’s critical that councils keep this at the front of their minds when telling disabled people there is a wait of months for adaptations.”
A Southampton City Council spokesperson today cited the high demand for alterations to properties.
“Long waits can often be due to special or complex situations but we aim to deal with critical cases within four weeks. The council (is) working very hard and pushing to reduce waiting times where possible.
”The pandemic has added additional pressures with increased staff absences and home visits restricted so we could protect the people we work with, causing delays to assessments, approvals and completion of works.”
Southampton City council declined to disclose how many people are on the waiting list but said the list is easing.
In order for properties occupied by people with mobility issues, they are often funded by a Disabled Facilities Grant.
In 2016 a report published to say the means-tested grants had helped more than 40,000 people a year to live in more accessible housing since its inception in 1989.
However, there is a long wait before someone disabled can apply for funding as their needs must be assessed by an occupational therapist, with thousands of disabled people across the UK are waiting months to be assessed – and waiting possibly years to have the work completed.
A Southampton City Council spokesperson said: “Disabled Facilities Grant cases are often complex and the time taken from initial application to approval and subsequent completion will vary considerably depending on the scale of the works and the needs of the individual.
“Additional resources are being recruited across the teams and a large-scale service review is underway to identify improvements to service delivery.”
This has lead to campaigners calling for an increase in the number of purpose-built houses to be built for the disabled, as applicants can be forced to wait years.
The Disability charity Leonard Cheshire says people in two thirds of English council areas wait longer than a year, with a quarter of council areas waiting more than two years.
A spokesperson for the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities, said, “We recognize the importance of improving accessibility, and the number of accessible homes has nearly doubled in a decade.
“Councils are best placed to decide how much accessible housing is needed in their area and they should reflect this in their plans for future development.”