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New report urges government to widen housing options for older generation

Jessica Nangle

December 8, 2020

A new survey has revealed that nearly 90% of people think the government should widen housing options for older people, including those with care.

The survey, conducted by Later Life Ambitions and the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), also revealed that more than half of older people are interested in moving but lack good local downsizing options.

The research highlights the disparity between the needs and wants of older people and the options available to them.

Those surveyed, who included a mixture of ages but 62% of whom were 65 or over, overwhelmingly supported government action to increase the provision of housing for older people.

When asked to rank top priorities for government change, the creation of alternatives to care homes came first, followed by developing a clear national strategy to encourage growth.

Also rated as important were providing more information to older people about their choices, making improvements to the planning system, and strengthening consumer protection and clarity.

Lisa Ray, general secretary of Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance and partner of Later Life Ambitions, added: “Appropriate and comfortable housing helps older people maintain independence, wellbeing and physical health.

“Needs and preference evolve with age, but the options available have not kept up with demand.

“Successive governments have failed to address this issue. With more than half of those who took part in the survey saying they were interested in downsizing, but local offers were not good enough, today’s research shows how urgently solutions are required.

“It is time for the government to take action.”

In addition to broad interest in housing options that include care, 14% said they would like to move specifically to a retirement community, an option that combines independent living with the provision of onsite, CQC-regulated care if needed, and a wide range of communal services and facilities.

Despite this demand, just 0.6% over-65s currently have the opportunity to live in a retirement community in the UK, compared to at least 5-6% in New Zealand, Australia and the US.

Today’s survey results increase the pressure on the government to act swiftly to expand housing and care options for older people.

ARCO and partners including politicians, charities, older people’s representatives and private sector organisations recently called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make the 2020s the “decade of housing-with-care”, and for a cross-government Task Force to increase options for older people.

Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, said: “The new evidence published today demonstrates starkly the gulf between what housing and care options people want when they are older, and those currently available to them.

“A majority of older people are interested in moving should there be the right option in their local area, but the current supply of good quality housing and care is simply nowhere near enough to meet demand.

“When 90% of people call on the government to widen housing options for older people, including those providing care, then it is time to listen and act swiftly.”

Nick Sanderson, chief executive at Audley Group, added: “The message is clear.

“We need more housing options for people as they get older and we need them quickly.

“It shouldn’t be a choice between a large family home or care home. We must expand housing with care provision and give people the options they are crying out for.

“Properties which enable them to live independently while having access to the best care and support. The COVID-19 crisis has only made this need more urgent.

“Pressure is mounting on the government to acknowledge the potential of housing with care and remove barriers which hold back growth.

“Doing this has the potential to transform both the housing market and the social care landscape for generations to come.”


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