Residential revolution needed for ageing population, says LGA


The number of specialist homes for older people will need to increase by 400,000 units in less than 20 years as a result of our ageing population, new analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals today

With one in five of the overall population in England set to be over 65 in a decade, a “residential revolution” is needed to provide more homes that support our ageing population, the LGA set outs today.

Only 0.6% of over 65s live in specialised accommodation, with a form of care support such as 24/7 on-site staff. This is 10 times less than in more developed retirement housing markets such as the USA or Australia.

LGA analysis published today reveals the number of these specialist homes for older people will need to increase by 75% by 2035.

Research by property consultants JLL conducted in July, revealed that we are currently building half the number of care home beds every year that we need, warning that up to 3,000 older adults will not be able to get beds in UK care homes by the end of next year.

With our ageing population, the research claimed that “over the course of the next decade there is going to be 2.5 million more over-65s, and as a result, that means there is going to be demand for care home beds.” The simple solution requires us to double the rate of delivery.

The LGA said at least 80% of the homes we will inhabit in 2050 have already been built so it is crucial that councils have sufficient funding to adapt existing housing, which is a vital component in supporting older people’s independence, health and wellbeing and as such should be at the heart of integrated health and care strategies.

Council leaders are also warning a chronic under-supply of desirable, affordable and “age-friendly” homes with enough space for older people to get around, and the ability for easy adaptations to be made, to cope with care needs. This is leaving retirees wanting to “right-size” to more manageable accommodation unable to do so.

The LGA is calling for the government to help support a “residential revolution” for older people’s housing by giving councils the tools to deliver more housing that supports positive and healthy ageing.

This includes planning powers to ensure developers build quality homes and infrastructure that are well designed to support positive ageing, as well as long term sustainable funding for councils to adapt existing homes, to help support older people to remain in their homes for longer and to support positive ageing.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman, said: “England will have 14.3 million over 65s by 2025, compared with 11.7 million today. This population shift looks set to continue.

“Our ageing population means that older people are an increasingly crucial part of our housing market. They now live in a third of all homes, and this is set to increase. Delivering quality housing that meets the needs of these older people is essential.

“Councils across the country are innovating when it comes to delivering housing for older people – from building new homes which are attractive to older people wanting to ‘right-size’, to ensuring housing is at the heart of integrated care.

“However, councils cannot tackle this issue alone. Support from government, which incentivises housebuilding and provides councils with the funding and resources they need, is crucial to our efforts to support positive ageing.”

Encouragingly, some councils are acting on the urgent need including:

  • Essex County Council who have developed Independent Living, a programme designed to provide housing for people over the age of 55 with a care need whose current home no longer meets their needs. This innovative housing model features 24/7 care and support based on site, and the ability for residents to benefit from living in a home of their own as part of a community with an even balance of low, medium or high care needs. The programme aims to create 1,800 new homes in Essex by 2022; residents have been moving in to the first 130 new homes throughout 2017. More information is available via a dedicated website:
  • Birmingham City Council under the brand name of Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, has designed and completed 53 dormer bungalows across 8 sites with 38 more currently under construction on another 3 sites. This has encouraged older people to move out of family-sized properties into new, smaller developments that meet their care and social needs. The design of the new properties was carried out in consultation with the local community, and feedback has been extremely positive.
  • Newcastle City Council has developed an Older People’s Housing Delivery Plan, which examined the needs of older city residents and has facilitated the building of 400 new affordable homes for older people, provided improvements to housing association or private homes, and ensured sheltered housing is improved.

The full report is available to read here: ‘Housing our Ageing Population’.

To discover more information, the LGA is hosting an event on housing our ageing population on 21 September. Delegate information is available here.


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