The report, Housing our aging population: positive ideas, is the latest in a long line of studies which points out that the housebuilding industry tends to neglect the elderly. However, the numbers laid bare by this latest effort make pretty sobering reading. Injuries due to falls among older people have been estimated to cost the state over £1 billion a year – one in four falls involve stairs and the majority take place in the home. Postponing entry into residential care by one year could reduce non-care costs by £26,000 per person.
“Government must move away from concentrating exclusively on support to young first time buyers, with its huge investment in Help to Buy schemes and now in Starter Homes,” said Lord Best, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People. “It gets multiple benefits from supporting older people to enjoy better health and well-being in new homes, from saving NHS and social care spending, and from freeing up family homes for the next generation.”
The report calls on housebuilders to apply the sector’s entrepreneurial skills to developing new types of housing for older people – housing products that respond to the aspirations of this burgeoning market, with due regard to a range of factors including design, social formation, tenure, and lifestyle.
The report asks that the benefits of cross-sectoral cooperation are explored through public/private partnerships which share financial exposure and achieve tenure-neutral solutions.
The report also urges local authorities to acquire a detailed understanding of the age profile of those in their area; consider current and future housing requirements for older people; and foster the public and private partnerships that can create the homes that are needed.
The report also asks local authorities to, when in entering into Section 106 agreements, to balance the value of achieving a higher level of affordable and social housing for younger households with the advantages of securing housing for older people for those on a range of incomes. It also suggests consideration be given to the importance, for economic and social sustainability, of development of housing for older people when disposing of land ownership.
“House builders are increasingly recognising the huge market for homes that are tailor-made for older people. They now need to progress adoption of industry Good Practice Codes and a HAPPI kitemark that brings assurance of quality, not least in ensuring clear information for potential buyers and tenants. And local planning authorities should also recognise the demographic changes that necessitate stronger encouragement for older people’s housing,” said Best.