Log in | Register

Only 10% of UK councils have housing policy for the elderly – research

Words: Laura Edgar
Care home / Shutterstock_283915550

Two-thirds of local authorities in the UK have no elderly accommodation policy or site allocation at all, while less than 10 per cent have both an elderly persons’ housing planning policy and allocated site for such housing, new research has suggested.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell said its research considered the current and emerging local plans of the 329 local authorities in the UK over a four-month period. It looked for policies on retirement housing and care homes to see if local authorities were properly prepared.

The research grades each local authority depending on the policies that were in place:

A – Clear policies comprising number of dwellings or care home beds required, how this will be achieved and specific site allocations provided.
B – A clear policy like A, but no land or site allocations.
C – Site allocations but no clear policy.
D – Neither. Policy at most confined to generalisations.

According to the results of the survey, 9.7 per cent (32) of local authorities were graded A, 22 per cent (72) were graded B, 6.7 (22) per cent were graded C and 62 per cent (203) were graded D.

Carl Dyer, head of planning at Irwin Mitchell, said too many councils “simply are not making adequate provision” in their local plans for the provision of retirement housing or for care homes.

“There are now 11.6 million people in the UK aged 65 or over and the number of people aged 60 or over is expected to pass 20 million by 2030. There are over 500,000 people aged 90 or over, and 14,570 aged 100 and over. The number of people with dementia in the UK is expected to hit one million by 2025 and two million by 2051. Our population is ageing. This is well known and well documented phenomenon happening slowly and over an extended time period. It is exactly the sort of change which our planning system should be able to anticipate and plan for, but that is simply not happening.”

Most local authorities graded A are in urban areas rather than rural districts. Additionally, the research suggests that there is little correlation between the existence of a policy and site allocations in a local plans and the need for such housing. A number of local authorities, including Salford, Horsham, Guildford and East Staffordshire, were graded A but the proportion of residents aged over 65 is below the national average.

Dyer said that “too many councils appear to believe that if they plan for retirement housing and for care homes they will get more elderly people in their districts”. This, he continued, ignores those already living in the area.

“Ironically care homes and most forms of retirement housing are a considerably more-land efficient means of accommodating people than traditional general market housing. When people move into retirement housing or to care homes then they invariably move out of their previous residences, which become available on the general market. Properly providing for the housing needs of the ageing and the elderly therefore represents a land efficient way for local planning authorities to also address general housing need.”

Read more:

RTPI: Good local planning is key to controlling dementia cost

Image credit | Shutterstock