Home Housing The evolving policy landscape of housing with care

The evolving policy landscape of housing with care

by Kirsty Kirsty

Nick Sanderson, Chief Executive at Audley Group, looks at the role housing with care has to play in the future landscape of social care.

In November, Professor Chris Whitty used the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report to impress upon the public, policymakers and the medical profession that despite widely held perceptions many, in fact most, people enter older age, and remain, in good health through their later years. With people enjoying independence and a high quality of life, and importantly experiencing ageing positively.

And if I were to urge the housing sector, from policymakers, planners, housebuilders to operators to remember one thing as we shape how people live it’s this. For many people ageing is positive, a time to do the things they enjoy with cherished friends and loved ones.

It’s evident from the conversations I have with our property owners in our Audley and Mayfield Villages. Many lead fascinating, active and independent lives and take part in a huge variety of activities – whether that’s skydiving to raise money for charity, supporting local school children with reading or travelling the world.

I believe at very heart of enabling people to live these lives, is providing the right housing, in the right places. In 2022, the National Housing Federation said that “every decision about care should be a decision about housing” – and this is absolutely true.

By giving people choice over how and where they live, with the facilities to help them actively improve all aspects of their wellbeing, we can help people stay well for longer. And importantly remove that decision between living in a large family home or moving into care. Something that has become all too common, simply because we don’t have a diverse enough housing mix.

In late 2022, the Mayhew Review made it clear that the UK has a chronic lack of appropriate retirement housing. At present just 7,000 retirement properties are built annually, out of 200,000 new build properties. Comparing this to the projected population growth of people over 65+, expected to reach 17.2million people by 2040, shows just how significant the shortfall is.

It’s recommendations include an accelerated programme of retirement housing construction with up to 50,000 new units and significant expansion in the number of integrated retirement communities, to create a housing stock that can support a healthy population.

But for this to kick into gear, we need to see reform in other parts of our housing policy. Planning reforms, announced in the Autumn Statement as part of the levelling Up & Regeneration Bill lacked focus on age specific housing. Which isn’t good enough. It needs to be acknowledged that age specific housing is needed to make up a diverse housing mix and meet the demands of our population. Retirement housing should be mandated in any new housing projects.

It’s also imperative that new policies tackle the root issues, as opposed to offering short-term solutions that paper over the cracks. Stamp duty changes for downsizers have been mooted for some time and while it would boost activity in the housing market, encouraging downsizing while there is an undersupply in the market would be a misstep. We need to ensure that sufficient properties are available to meet demand before incentives are introduced.

This is what the Older People’s Housing Task Force is working to address and more will be shared in the coming months. Looking at barriers impacting growth and supply of appropriate housing for older people and providing recommendations as part of a report to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

This will contribute to ongoing progress which must remain at the forefront of policy reforms to allow the UK to increase supply and boost the housing with care market. As manifestos take shape in 2024 and the build up to the next general election, we must do what we can to ensure effective policy is already in place to make room for real, continual progress.

@AudleyCEO @Audley Villages


Image depicts Nick Sanderson, Chief Executive at Audley Group

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