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MPs join calls for action to address older people’s housing and care

Words: Laura Edgar
Retirement communities / iStock

The government must as a priority improve the housing and care options for older people, say a cross-party group of MPs and leaders from academia, finance, local politics, and housing.

Edited by the representative body for the housing with care sector*, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators), The Housing with Care Grey Paper comprises essays and policy recommendations from 14 authors, including politicians from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP.

It states: “The Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated many ways in which we must grow as a society, but right near the top is the urgent need to provide better support for older and more vulnerable people.”

The housing with care sector provides a home for just 0.6 per cent of over-65s – “considerably” less than the 5-6 per cent seen in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. Recommendations in the paper are aimed at redressing that imbalance.  

Authors that contributed to the paper

  • Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, crossbench peer and chief executive, International Longevity Centre – UK
  • Bob Blackman, Conservative MP and member of Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee  
  • Damian Green, Conservative MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity
  • Dr Lisa Cameron, SNP MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health
  • Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Labour peer and former director at Age Concern Scotland
  • Lord Shipley OBE, Liberal Democrat peer and former housing spokesperson  
  • Jane Ashcroft CBE, chief executive at Anchor Hanover and vice chair at ARCO
  • Nick Sanderson, founder and chief executive at Audley Villages and chair of ARCO
  • Les Mayhew, head of global research at the International Longevity Centre - UK and professor of statistics at City University’s Business School
  • Phil Bayliss, CEO of senior living at Legal & General
  • Councillor David Fothergill, adult social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network (CCN)
  • Jeremy Porteus, chief executive of Housing Learning and Improvement Network
  • Philippa Fieldhouse, managing director at Richmond Care Villages
  • Chandra McGowan, former CEO of The Whiteley Homes Trust and personal, organisational, and social change coach

The authors (see box) want to see “greater clarity” in the planning system, such as definitions for different types of older people’s housing, including a new planning category for housing with care. The government is currently working on planning reforms: its white paper Planning for the Future was published for consultation last year, with the responses set to inform a forthcoming planning bill.

“Any changes should make it easier for housing with care developments to be built so we have enough available to meet the growing demand over the coming decades,” according to the Housing with Care Grey Paper.

Other recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • A cross-government Housing with Care Task Force.
  • Better financial incentives for older people to ‘rightsize’ into more suitable properties.
  • And expansion of the number of ‘lifetime homes’ fit for all ages.
  • Securing a better deal for paid and unpaid care workers.
  • A sustainable funding formula for social care, including a Universal Care Entitlement.

In addition to planning reforms, the government is expected to publish social care reforms later this year.

Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, said: “The Housing with Care Grey Paper demonstrates just how much cross-party and cross-society support there is for better housing provision and expansion of care options for older people.  

“We’re delighted to have received 14 thoughtful and incisive contributions from figures across politics, academia, finance, housing and more, and we urge the government to take their recommendations seriously.

“What unites the pieces is the sense that bringing about change is going to require cross-government action, and that’s exactly why we’re calling for a Housing with Care Task Force to be set up with immediate effect.”

Jane Ashcroft CBE, chief executive of Anchor Hanover, added: “In the next 15 years, 4.4 million more people will be aged 65 or over. We cannot wait any longer to secure a positive future for today’s and tomorrow’s older generations.

“The government has got to finalise its ‘clear plan’ to resolve social care as soon as possible – including measures to boost housing with care which improves the independence, health and wellbeing of older people.

“There are challenges for us all; for businesses, for public services and for each one of us as individuals. Action now can positively change how we age.”

The Housing with Care Grey Paper can be read here on the ARCO website (pdf).

* The housing with care sector combines independent living for older people with the provision of onsite care and support if needed.

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