Lack of focus on elderly housing could cost billions

Lack of focus on elderly housing could cost billions

12:02 PM, 3rd December 2019, About 3 years ago 7

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Lord Best, Chair of the Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, warns a lack of political action is opening the UK to an unforeseen crisis.

In an interview with the Elder Magazine, the cross-bench peer opened up on how the lack of focus on elderly housing could cost the UK billions if not addressed. It comes as social care policy has become a key policy battleground in the race for Number Ten. The full interview is now live on their website: Click here

While all three parties have put forward differing visions on how to deal with the crisis in care, none have included a firm commitment to housing specifically designed around the needs of the elderly. According to housing charity, Shelter, there are currently over two million older people living in non-decent properties.

And, with the ageing population, 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%.

Lord Best said: “This is a crisis that is building slowly and it’s not until people actually 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”

“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.”

Quality housing, specifically built for the needs of the elderly, is set to become vital in the UK’s fight to look after the elderly.

It’s widely acknowledged that social care increasingly will have to be delivered in the community, as the care home sector faces a struggle for survival. In 2017, the latest figures, care home insolvencies soared by 83%.

Due to a lack of investment, 72% of care homes are between 20-30 years old. Other solutions, such as live-in care are able to 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, who conducted the interview 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.”

The ageing population – We’re getting older.

  • It’s forecast the number of over 65s with a Iife-limiting or terminal illness, whose day-to-day activities are significantly limited will reach three million by 2025, a rise of almost 30%. (1)
  • Over 65s account for 80% of the nation’s wealth, possessing more than £1.7trn of mortgage-free housing wealth. (2)
  • In 50 years the number of people over 65 will be the same as today’s population of London. That’ll be accompanied by a huge increase in the over 85s and centenarians. (3)
  • By 2037 there are projected to be 1.42 million more households headed by someone aged 85 or over – an increase of 161% over 25 years. (4)
  • By 2050, over 65s will account for more than 30% of the electorate. A section of the electorate who make their vote count over 80% of the time. (5)

Care homes can’t cope – care is going to be delivered in the home. 

  • Over 420 providers have failed since 2010 (6). 1 in 4 currently financially unsustainable. (7)
  • Aggressive ‘leaseback’ agreements, by which companies opened, sold and leased back homes were often predicated on infeasible returns of 12% or higher. (8)
  • In 2017, the latest figures, care home insolvencies soared by 83%. (9)
  • Since 2016, there’s an average of additional 5,000 requests for social care support per day to local authorities (10). Department of Health data shows the lead time to plan, build and staff a care home means that they can’t respond to demand.
  • 72% of care homes are between 20-30 years old, some are older still. (11)
  • The CMA has found care home capacity has not been planned early enough, meaning ‘unlikely to be able to find appropriate care for all those with eligible needs in the future.’ (11)
  • And even if they had, they can’t get the workforce. The National Audit Office has recently found staff turnover in the sector of 28% annually, with a vacancy rate up to three times other sectors. (12)

Housing and elderly people – Our housing stock isn’t ready for it. 

  • Housing and Ageing Population Panel for Innovation has set out criteria for a ‘lifetime home’ – a residential property that has been future-proofed, around the needs of the elderly. The criteria for which can be found here. (13)
  • Over two million older people live in non-decent properties. (14)
  • Only 7% of all homes in England are classed as accessible. (15)
  • The APPG on Housing and Care for Older People estimate there’s a need for 400,000 units of lifetime housing stock. (16)
  • Only 0.6% of over 65s live in ‘housing with care’ – 10 times less than the US and Australia. (17)




Jo Westlake

12:02 PM, 4th December 2019, About 3 years ago

I'm a fan of retirement housing as an idea but right now there seems to be very little middle ground. It's all either big retirement developers with very high charges and dire resale values or Social retirement housing for the lucky few.
In my opinion there needs to be a mass market rental option. By definition retirement housing is temporary so why buy it? Renting would allow easier transfer to accomodation with more care if required.
How much money would be freed up for lifestyle, care and helping other generations if it wasn't all tied up in housing?
How many family size houses would be freed up for young families if there was an attractive retirement housing option?
There would be less requirement for care home places if people were living in suitable retirement accommodation in the first place. Much easier to be independent if you live in a manageable size home, close to shops and public transport, etc. Ideally such housing should be available for ANYONE over 55 or 60 who wants it. No requirement to have health issues or a specific bank balance.
How many people stay in completely unsuitable houses because it isn't financially viable to buy somewhere more suitable? By the time SDLT has been paid it simply isn't viable to move. There's also the fear of making a mistake.
If good quality retirement rentals were readily available it would be easier to make the move. If renting really didn't feel right a person could always buy again if they really wanted.
The location of retirement housing needs careful thought. Everyone has a different retirement dream so there certainly isn't a one size fits all answer. A bungalow by the sea isn't everyone's perfect retirement home. Building retirement developments within existing housing estates is ideal for local people wishing to downsize but stay close to friends, converting unused commercial space in town centres would be good, building purpose built retirement housing on top of community centres, doctors surgeries, libraries, non food outlets in new developments would all help retired people maintain active independent lives.
The over 55s today have vastly different ideas to previous generations so care needs to be taken to listen to what they actually want, not just assume it's to be an owner occupier of a bungalow in a cul-de-sac or a retirement apartment with a comprehensive (expensive) warden service. We're looking at a market with a 40 or 50 year age span so a whole load of different ideas and requirements.
It's certainly something the government and planning departments need to engage with very, very soon.


13:04 PM, 4th December 2019, About 3 years ago

Leasehold Reform? Why has it dropped out of the Queens Speech AND the Conservative Manifesto? Because Churchill Builders have donated £100k to the Conservative Party.
I live in an Audley Retirement Village where our monthly Management Fee is £850pm. Yes, almost £10,000 per annum??
Beverley Stott


8:32 AM, 5th December 2019, About 3 years ago

My last rental has a retired couple in it, they keep the place spotless, best tenants I ever had. If things were different I would get some more, but I am going back to flips.


12:54 PM, 5th December 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Beverley at 04/12/2019 - 13:04
That's an obscene amount of money!


12:58 PM, 5th December 2019, About 3 years ago

Thank you soooo much for posting this article. When I refurbed a house and asked for sockets at 900mm the electrician asked me why...….doh! Nobody thinks of this stuff until the need is desperate and then they go altering everything...…….so why didn't you plan and build that way in the first place?

Freda Blogs

9:44 AM, 7th December 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Beverley at 04/12/2019 - 13:04
Leasehold Reform hasn’t dropped out. The Law Commission were due to report October /November and then the election was announced, so the earliest that the report can be debated will be in the New Year.

Roy B

16:11 PM, 8th December 2019, About 3 years ago

And in my street we have sheltered accomodation built in the 60's and upgraded so what do the HA do - chuck a bunch of youngsters in and the LA do nothing but say call the HA and complain to them.

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