New report calls for increased housing provision

January 10, 2022

The House of Lords’ Built Environment Committee has published a new report, which concludes that the Government must address barriers to building much needed new homes.

The Government has set an ambitious target for 300,000 new homes per year (net additions) and one million new homes by 2024.

In Chapter 3 of the report, Meeting the UK’s housing demand, authors detail housing needs for an ageing population. The UK population is ageing and by 2050 one in four people in the UK will be over 65. Report authors state that the country needs more specialist and mainstream housing suitable for the elderly.

In the ten years up to 2028, the number of households with people aged 75 and over living on their own is expected to increase by 461,000. By 2032, the number of people over 80 is estimated to rise to 5 million, up from 3.2 million presently.

The Lifestory Group, a later-living housebuilder, highlighted the need for a diverse range of well designed, sustainable, later living homes delivered to provide older people with suitable housing choices.’ They stressed that ‘failure to meet this demand will put greater pressure on already overstretched resources, including adult social care and the NHS.’ The Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee published a report Housing for Older People in 2018.

McCarthy Stone provided written evidence and said that there is a ‘structural shortage of suitable housing options for older people and more retirement communities are needed for the UK’s rapidly ageing population.’ On the other hand, the Centre for Ageing Better told the Committee that ‘only 5% of over-65s live in specialist housing, while the vast majority of older people live in mainstream housing and 80% wish to remain in their own homes as they age.’ They added, ‘Older people are a diverse group with varying needs and require a range of mainstream housing options, and specialist homes only form a small part of the solution.’

The Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research said that between one quarter and one third of older people are consistently found to express interest in moving to a new house, but only 3.4% of older adults do so and most of them move within mainstream housing, rather than into specialised housing for older people. While this implies that there is ‘not currently huge demand for specialised housing options’, this low number of moves may be ‘constrained by the low supply of such homes and poor distribution throughout the country, as well as demand-side barriers. These figures suggest that moving to a new house may be popular in theory, but that older people are deterred from making such moves in practice.’

According to the report, around 7,500 new retirement properties were built in 2019. The current housing composition of the later living sector is:

  • Retirement housing:
  • 67.5% social rent (505,783 units)
  • 21.3% private sale (159,687)
  • 0.4% private rent (2,836)
  • Extra care/housing-with-care:
  • 7.7% social rent (57,690)
  • 2.8% private sale (21,284)
  • 0.2% private rent (1,722)

In New Zealand, Australia and the USA at least 5–6% of the over-65 population has the option to live in housing-with-care. In the UK, this is just 0.6%. Following the introduction of sector-specific regulation and legislation, the housing-with-care sector in New Zealand has flourished. Five out of the top 15 residential housebuilders in the country are retirement community operators, including the top housebuilder, Ryman Healthcare.

Commenting on the Built Environment Committee’s report, Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said, ‘We urgently need cross-government action to create the housing and care options that our ageing population so desperately requires, which is why we reiterate our call for a cross-department housing-with-care task force to be established immediately.

Voges added, ‘The ‘Meeting Housing Demand’ report is absolutely right to highlight the huge growth in the older population that we will see in the next few years – particularly those living alone – and the need to vastly expand specialist housing options to meet this surge.

‘Integrated Retirement Communities, in combining independent living with high-quality support and care, and great opportunities to meet new people and reduce loneliness, have a key role to play in enabling older people to thrive.

‘As the report notes, when sector-specific regulation and legislation is put in place to support new options like Integrated Retirement Communities, great things happen. The experience of New Zealand, where there is 10 times the provision of this kind of setting compared with the UK, demonstrates this in abundance.’

Responding to the Lords’ Built Environment Committee report, Meeting the UK’s housing demand, Cllr David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said, ‘We fully support the Committee’s call for more investment in increasing social housing stock, if we are to tackle the housing crisis.

‘By giving councils the powers and resources to build 100,000 much-needed social homes a year, we can help the Government meet its annual target of 300,000 new homes. This should include further reform of Right to Buy.’

Reference 

Visit the UK Parliament website to read the report in full.

In other news, new data shows global dementia cases are set to triple by 2050 –  an estimated 153 million people will be living with dementia by 2050.


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