Housing for ageing population at ‘crisis point’

Conference hears of the “urgent need” for specialist housing for older people.

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A lack of action in working to meet the market needs of an ageing population was the view shared by many of those in attendance at HOMES UK 2019.

Addressing delegates on the conference’s second day, Lord Best said that although we are currently living in crisis, “the worst is yet to come.”

Lord Best cited figures showing that 75% of over-65s are home owners – but said the number is decreasing to 63%.

He said: “What we are seeing is that more and more older people are renting – but those rents aren’t at a decrease just because someone has retired.

“We know that people are spending up to 40% of income on rent, and that is often made worse by the fact that someone is on a lower retirement income.”

As reported by 24housing, a Parliamentary inquiry estimated that more than one million low-cost rented homes will be needed to adequately house older people by the late 2040s – an average of 38,000 homes a year.

Lord Best, who sits as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Care for Older People, warned that the current programme of around 3,000 homes a year for older people is not be enough even to help the existing social housing tenants who need to downsize in older age.

At the conference, Habinteg CEO Sharon Carter also referenced statistics showing that one in three households are aged 65 or older.

“The majority of people who rent or own these homes have a disability or a chronic illness,” Carter said.

“It should be the case for the sector that the economic benefits of these homes massively outweighs cost.”

Claire Cameron, director within the later living team at PRP, also discussed the urgent need for homes that are more fit for purpose for an older population.

According to reports, 25% of residents over 65 expressed an interest in downsizing – but over half wouldn’t due to “lack of choice”, Cameron said.

“How do we make our homes fit for purpose?” came a question from the floor.

“We need to make the homes we build now work harder,” said Carter

“Building all new homes to Category 2 standard can create more choice for people as they age – and they can also become part of the solution to address our crisis.”

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