Commenting on the publication of the Government’s Housing White Paper, Clive Fenton, CEO of McCarthy & Stone said:
“Millions of older homeowners are considering downsizing but have become ‘Generation Stuck’ due to a lack of good, high-quality housing that suits their needs. The country’s first housing strategy for six years commendably offers the opportunity to finally address years of undersupply and we are particularly pleased to see positive references to increasing provision of housing that meets the needs and aspirations of older people, including building more specialist retirement housing. In light of the UK’s serious housing crisis, including the need for housing for our significantly ageing population, we welcome the government’s proposals for long-term sustainable solutions.
“As only c.141,000 units of owner-occupied retirement housing have ever been built, many older people are forced to struggle on in unsuitable property or move into care, even though that might not be the best solution for them. Better and more appropriate housing in later life helps maintain independence, keeps older people happier and healthier for longer, and out of care, and at the same time frees-up under-occupied homes for use by younger people.
“Such policies could encourage a valuable addition to overall housing supply: currently only around 5,500 units of retirement housing are delivered each year across all tenures, but research suggests that with the right planning environment this could be increased to 20-30,000 units per year. This is a prize worth seeking. McCarthy & Stone’s homeowners have fewer visits to health professionals, spend fewer nights in in-patient care, and can return home more easily after stays in hospital. Retirement housing’s key role in helping solve the health and social care crisis – at no extra cost to the public purse – can no longer be ignored.
“We look forward to working with government to build on the policies in the White Paper and support the delivery of a greater choice of housing options for older people.”
The White Paper notes that the government will explore ways to stimulate the market to deliver new homes for older people and is introducing a new statutory duty through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill on the Secretary of State to produce, for the first time, guidance for local planning authorities on how their local development documents should meet the housing needs of older and disabled people. Guidance produced under this duty will place clearer expectations about planning to meet the needs of older people, including supporting the development of such homes near local services. In addition, the White Paper notes the government’s commitment to explore ways to help older people to move at the right time, including possible future incentives.
A number of other measures in the White Paper are also welcomed, including encouraging high-density brownfield development in urban locations and improving the assessment of local housing need.