Last month, our Scottish Housing LIN webpages went live. The refreshed pages coincided with the Future Forum’s seminar with the Parliament’s Cross-Party Groups on Housing (opens new window) and on Older People, Age and Ageing (opens new window) in Edinburgh.
Whilst developing these pages, it struck me that we face broadly similar challenges and opportunities across the UK in meeting the housing needs of an ageing population. On the one hand, the vast majority of older people don’t aspire to move; they simply wish to ‘stay put’. But there is also a new generation of older people who are not satisfied with the current retirement housing options; people who would move if something more attractive was available that met their later living lifestyles.
Drawing on our market insight and intelligence in England and Wales, the Housing LIN is ideally placed to connect practitioners, ideas and resources to inspire the development of innovative new housing solutions in Scotland - such as HAPPI-influenced design of specialist housing. Whether in urban or rural locations, we must avoid building the same old, ‘same old’.
Indeed, this was highlighted in a recent paper, Housing and Ageing: Linking strategy to future delivery for Scotland, Wales and England 2030. Scotland has not seen the same levels of investment in specialist housing provided south of the border through the extra care housing fund (which the Housing LIN administered for some years) and its successor programme, the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund. On the other hand, Scotland has prepared the ground for a surge in building through strategy documents such as Age, Home and Community – first published in 2011. This document and its successor show what can be possible; for example, updated local planning regulations that better reflect the needs of older people English ministers would do well to look at them.
However, current supply in Scotland is still dominated by local authorities, housing associations and charities. With a few exceptions, it appears difficult to develop a more diverse provision and mixed tenure outside Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, something we hope will be ameliorated by the content and shared learning experiences the new Housing LIN website will bring.
In Wales, I worked with public servants from the Welsh Government and local authorities and others on the 2017 Our Housing AGEnda. As well as pointing to the need for a better understanding of the housing requirements of older people it urged measures to widen the range of housing options and to incentivise that change.
So, as we enhance our online presence in Scotland and look to build our network, there is now an opportunity to adapt the learning from other exemplary practice and develop a ‘new age’ of housing choices for people in later life. HAPPI now!