According to this report, the Government must build 50,000 new homes for older people each year to tackle the UK’s housing and social care crisis – one in four of all new homes.
Leading academic on ageing societies, Professor Les Mayhew, says that with the number of over-65s set to race past 17 million by 2040, the Government should initiate an accelerated programme of constructing older people’s housing with up to 50,000 new units a year, on top of the meagre 7,000 currently built annually.
Achieving this growth would help older people stay healthy for longer, and reduce the burden on the NHS and care homes. The report says each new home would free up housing and surplus bedrooms for younger families and first-time buyers, making housing more affordable. In addition, new developments could play a major part in revitalising declining high streets.
Integrated Retirement Communities providing communal facilities and social care have a particularly important role to play. New Zealand, Australia and the US are far more advanced in this regard – with 10 times the number of older people living in this kind of setting as here – but Mayhew says the UK needs to go much further than even these countries.
Professor Mayhew, whose commission this year drew on evidence and input from over forty experts, highlights the concrete steps the Government needs to take to reach the levels of older people’s housing required:
- Launching the Older People’s Housing Taskforce immediately
- Reforming planning rules to make it easier to build housing suitable for later life
- Putting older people’s housing on a level playing field with all other developments
- Cutting Stamp Duty so it is the same for last-time buyers as first-time buyers
- Ramping up the financial advice available for older people looking to move