Readers of this site will know that I’ve been posting stories about Ann Sparling, a 47-year-old disabled woman who can’t leave her 4th floor Islington council flat, because she can’t walk up or down the four flights of stairs. There is no lift in her building.
I asked the Islington Council press office what procedures the council had in place for ensuring that people in Ann’s situation wouldn’t be stuck in their flats in an emergency.
I also asked if the council knew how many disabled people were trapped in similar situations.
Got no answers there.
Ann reported, however, that when a council officer finally got in contact with Ann about her situation, the council officer wondered the same sort of thing – “wonder how many people are stuck in the same situation?”
Ever the trier, I sent an FOI to Islington in August with those questions.
The answers were hopeless.
Q: How many of those households with a disabled member who are requesting transfers are requesting ground floor flats, because they are housed in flats which are up one or more flights of stairs?
Answer: “We are unable to answer this question. Housing information (e.g. the floor level of a property) and Adult Social Care information (e.g. whether a service user has a disability) are stored on different systems and it is not possible to cross reference this information.”
Q: How many households with a disabled member of the household are currently housed in council flats which are inaccessible to disabled people?
Answer: “…For those with existing tenancies in council properties, the council would only be aware if a resident is disabled if they self-identify as such and have notified the council. Additionally, housing information (e.g. the floor level of a property) and Adult Social Care information (e.g. whether a service user is disabled) are stored on different systems and it is not possible to cross reference this information.”
I’m not even sure what that means. I do know that notifying the council re: your disability and needing a transfer because of it means absolutely nothing. Ann notified the council of her situation several years ago and has sent no end of paperwork since, but remained stuck in her flat.
This is garbage. How many disabled people are stuck in flats in buildings that they can’t easily leave? What happens to those people an emergency? What happens if the fire brigade asks if there are disabled people stuck in inaccessible flats? Do they get the same Computer Says No? Does anybody care?