HOUSING Minister Kevin Stewart has rejected calls for a national target to ensure at least 10% of all new homes are wheelchair accessible.

The recommendation was made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) after it reported a “severe shortage” of suitable properties across the country.

However Stewart told Holyrood’s Local Government Committee that while he had made it clear to councils that they must increase the availability of accessible homes, he did not “necessarily want to see an arbitrary figure plucked from the air”.

The issue was raised by Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson, who said the EHRC’s findings made for “grim reading”. The organisation said at present only 0.7% of council housing and 1.5% of social housing is accessible for wheelchair users.

Stewart said 91% of the new homes were housing for “varying needs”, meaning they could be more easily adapted in future if required.

“I have made no bones about the fact that I want to see more wheelchair accessible housing delivered throughout Scotland, and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve told local authorities on numerous occasions that that there is flexibility around about subsidy to deliver in this sphere,” he said.