The UK needs to radically re-think housing for older people, according to research.
Law firm Shakespeare Martineau and the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN) surveyed 200 senior figures in the UK ‘later living’ sector including private developers, registered providers, local authorities, care operators, architects, charities and voluntary organisations.
They found that not only was increasing housing supply stated as a key issue but the UK must provide a wider range of appropriate accommodation for older people in the UK – by offering a range of schemes, designs and tenure options.
The research showed that pressure from the UK’s growing ageing population is well-recognised in the housing sector.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents believe that the demand for later living accommodation will increase over the next five years.
However, respondents say meeting this demand requires ‘urgent action’ from both the government and the sector itself.
Planning regulation was highlighted as an area in need of change, with 89% of respondents calling for an overhaul. This has recently been recognised by the government with the publishing of new planning guidance around housing for disabled and older people.
90% of respondents also believe that more capital funding incentives from central government are necessary to stimulate development and fuel investment activity in the later living market.
The research also showed an eagerness within the sector to promote the benefits of ‘rightsizing’. The majority (93%) of respondents thought that the concept, which encourages older people to move out of properties which do not cater for their needs, into more suitable homes, was set to increase in popularity over coming years.
Also suggested is the idea of a ‘help to retire’ register, which would offer financial incentives for older people looking to downsize.
Louise Drew, head of real estate at Shakespeare Martineau, said: ‘We have a real multi-faceted problem in the UK. How do we provide both adequate homes for families and younger people, as well as suitable accommodation for the ever-growing ageing population?
‘We must tap into the needs of the later living market and show that the days of housing for older people being limited to residential care and sheltered accommodation are over. There are innovative, appropriate and considered models out there which must be given proper attention, by the sector itself and the government.’
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