Lack of political focus on elderly housing could ‘cost UK billions’

According to Shelter, there are currently over two million older people living in unsuitable properties.

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A lack of political action on elderly housing could “cost the UK billions” if not properly addressed, Lord Richard Best has said.

With social care being provided increasingly in the home, it is estimated that some 400,000 ‘lifetime homes’ are now required to meet the demands of an ageing population.

According to Shelter, there are currently over two million older people living in non-decent properties.

And the Local Government Association forecast the number of over-65s whose day-to-day activities are significantly limited will reach three million by 2025, a rise of almost 30%.

In a recent interview, Best, who sits as chair of the Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, has said that it’s not until people have nowhere to go that a housing crisis becomes “very open and real”.

“The appetite to deal with this issue just isn’t really there and I don’t detect any of the parties feeling any great sense of urgency to create homes for people over pension age,” he said.

“We always seem to wait until there’s a crisis, and then try to fix it. That’s not the way to do things.

“I’d like to see the private and social sectors working together to create 30,000 homes a year that are tailor-made for older people,” he added.

This lack of action in working to meet the market needs of an ageing population was also the view shared by Lord Best 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.”

According to further reports, due to a lack of investment, 72% of care homes are between 20-30 years old.

It’s argued that other solutions, such as live-in care can respond to the increasing demand, but for these services to deliver where the care home has failed, appropriate housing needs to be built.

Pete Dowds, CEO of Elder, said: “We hear a lot about the need to more closely align health and social care policy. But the same needs to happen with social care and housing policy.

“As the care-home sector increasingly struggles, the need to have suitable housing for the elderly is only going to become more acute. More care is going to be delivered on our homes.

“If we fail to build the right housing now, the cost for adaptations is going to be significantly higher in the future. A long-term approach will bring save money and make the lives of families better.”

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