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Strategy is needed for older people’s housing, committee finds

Words: Laura Edgar
New bungalows should be considered for older people's housing / iStock-182150907

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has said that a national strategy for housing for older people is needed to improve policy in this area.

According to the committee report Housing for Older People, it should recognise the link between housing and health, as well as be closely linked with the social care green paper and the government’s future work on social care.

Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee, said: “With an ageing population, it's vital that the link between housing and health and social care is recognised. A new national strategy for older people, taking on board the recommendations of our report, should be linked to the government’s forthcoming social care green paper.”

For the CLG Committee, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should be amended to encourage the development of more housing for older people. Councils should identify how much housing they need in their area for older people and what type (accessible, extra care or mainstream), while more councils and developers “should consider the feasibility of building bungalows”.

Other recommendations put forward by the committee include:

  • A range of measures to help older people overcome the barriers to moving home including an accreditation for companies that provide tailored services for older people moving home and better customer service and guidance from lenders when applying for a mortgage.
  • Alongside its support for choosing through the Community Housing Fund, the government, in partnership with the UK Cohousing Network, should produce guidance for local authorities on supporting cohousing groups through the planning system.
  • Local authorities should produce and publish a strategy that explains how they intend to meet the housing needs of older people in their area, including the scale and mix of housing and the tenures needed, and setting out the evidence relating to current housing need.
  • Local authority planning, health and social care teams should work together to assess the savings to health and social care budgets which may arise from additional specialist housing in their area and consider this in the context of negotiations over planning charges.

Betts added: “The right kind of housing can help people stay healthy and support them to live independently. This can help reduce the need for home or residential care, bringing real benefits to the individual and also relieving pressure on the health service. The green paper must consider the range of housing for older people, from mainstream and accessible homes to supported and extra care housing, as well as access to adaptations and repairs.”

Anna Kear, executive director at UK Cohousing, said: “Cohousing is different to traditional housing models – it is a form of community-led housing that enables people to have control as it is created and run by its residents. Cohousing is attracting the attention of many older people who value their independence and well-being, and understand the importance of being socially connected and active in later life.

“We were pleased to be invited by the CLG Committee to provide evidence and happy to see that such positive recommendations have been made to government. The new Community Housing Fund will help groups access resources and UK Cohousing is happy to collaborate with government to promote cohousing.”

Housing for Older People can be found on the UK Parliament website.