Election needs commitments to ‘world class’ housing with care

ARCO urges parties to get ahead in supporting the retirement community sector.

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All parties need commitments to a “world class” system of housing with care for older people, ARCO has said.

The trade association for operators of such housing wants manifestos to support the growth of the Retirement Community sector.

“This election is an opportunity for all parties to make a clear statement of their ambitions to grow a world class housing with care system for older people in the UK,” said ARCO executive director Michael Voges.

“Currently the UK lags well behind comparable countries in its provision of housing with care.

“Changing this will unlock billions of pounds of savings for the NHS and social care, free up hundreds of thousands of houses, attract tens of billions of pounds of investment, and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of older people.

“This is a policy all parties should be able to get behind – showing leadership and taking a long-term view of how we provide for our ageing population,” he said.

ARCO called on parties to:

  • Commit to supporting the growth of the retirement community sector in their manifestos
  • Align health and social care policy to facilitate the transformational growth needed to deliver housing, support, and care options to hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK
  • Work toward global leadership in innovative solutions that address the housing and care needs of our ageing population
  • Provide an additional 175,000 older people with access to next-generation retirement communities by 2030
  • Establish a cross-government task force to review the regulatory obstacles standing in the way of accelerated growth in the sector
  • Empowering and protect older people in their choices and decisions concerning their housing and care, including clarity over any fees and charges they may face – and over what they can expect from their provider

“We are committed to working with older people, consumer champions, and the Retirement Community sector to achieve these goals,” said Voges.

Already, ARCO and its members have contacted hundreds of Parliamentary candidates from the main political parties to sign up to a similar pledge for candidates, with a view to continuing and expanding the work ARCO has been doing with the present cross-party group of Parliamentary supporters.

ARCO believes that a Retirement Community task force – if formed – needs to address the following urgent issues that are preventing accelerated growth:

  • Providing a sector-specific legal and regulatory framework that protects consumers and provides much-needed clarity for operators
  • Overcoming barriers in the planning system that slow down (or even prevent) new schemes from being built
  • Providing a clear definition of retirement community offering housing with support and care, removing the existing ambiguity
  • Working with the sector to establish more flexible forms of tenure, providing customers a choice beyond the traditional leasehold system

Over the next three years, ARCO’s board has agreed on a proactive strategy that will see ARCO significantly expand its activity in these areas.

“We are hopeful that the next UK government and Parliament – whatever its composition – will be willing to work in partnership with the sector, customers, and civil society organisations in creating a housing, health, and social care solution that is fit for the 21st century,” said Voges.

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