Councils chiefs call for a ‘residential revolution’ in older people’s housing

Local authority leaders have said they
should be granted the powers necessary to undertake a
‘desperately-needed’ residential revolution in older people’s housing.

Responding to an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report on older people’s housing in rural
areas, the Local Government Association (LGA) said councils needed the
‘right tools’ to ensure elderly people living outside of urban areas
have suitable accommodation.

According to the APPG for Housing and Care for Older People, half of
rural households are expected to be headed by someone who is over 65
within the next two decades.

This places a lot of pressure on local authorities due to the expense
of providing care to those who are not concentrated in a single, urban
setting.

‘The central dilemma we encountered concerned the problem and cost of
delivering care services to older people in more remote locations,’ the
APPG report noted.

‘Care agencies report difficulties in recruitment and local
authorities face extra costs for transport and unproductive time in
providing domiciliary support to rural communities.’

The APPG report recommended that more accommodation suitable for an ageing population should be built in market towns.

However, they stressed this would not be enough and said it would be
preferable for this accommodation to be available in villages.

‘Small scale provision in large numbers of villages would often be
the preferred solution for those who otherwise simply refuse to take the
step of moving from unsuitable properties,’ the report said.

This solution would enable family and friends to continue to support
their elderly relatives, which would in turn bring savings for the
state.

Local SME housebuilders are able to provide some of this
accommodation, but major developers are reluctant to build on small,
rural sites for older people, the APPG concluded.

This would mean councils and other not-for-profit builders would have to step in to fill this market gap.

‘Until measures are in place that mean private sector players can
meet local need, we conclude that accommodation for older people will
usually require the involvement of housing associations, local councils,
or other not–for–profit bodies like Community Land Trusts or
almshouses,’ the report concluded.

‘Our overarching conclusion is that, despite Government commitments
to increase housebuilding nationally, special measures will be needed to
secure homes suitable for older people-– increasingly representing the
majority of residents – living in rural communities.’

Commenting on the report and noting the ‘clear link’ between housing,
health and social care, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s
Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘Councils want to see a
desperately-needed residential revolution in older people’s housing.

‘However, they need to have the tools to build these appropriate
homes, including the freedom to borrow to build new homes across the
country, fully resourced planning teams so approvals can be given to
appropriate homes as quickly as possible, and allowed to retain 100% of
receipts from Right to Buy sales so that homes sold can be replaced.’

‘If councils are given the right tools, we could trigger that
residential revolution and deliver the homes our older residents need,
but with an ageing population, the clock is ticking,’ she continued.

‘As a country, we owe it to our older people to tackle this problem urgently – the time to act is now.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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