10. Working within the legal framework
The Equality Act 2010 has repealed much of the previous disability legislation. It includes a new duty for public bodies to have due regard to promoting equality.
Section 29 provides that there is no discrimination on grounds of disability where the unfavourable treatment arising from the disability can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Therefore discrimination can be justified in law if the council has appropriately balanced the needs of the person with a disability and those of others in need of accommodation.
Making better overall use of the housing stock and meeting more needs including those with disabilities is a legitimate aim. The cost of adaptations and the suitability of the current accommodation are relevant factors when considering proportionality.
Alternative means of meeting needs other than adapting the current property, including transfers to more suitable accommodation, or tenants contributing to the costs, are options that may be considered.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has indicated that it will publish guidance on the application of the new Act to social housing. Some of the Act's provisions are not yet in force.