Government must improve housing for older people

A new survey shows that nearly 90 per cent of people think that the government should widen housing options for older people – including those with care, and that more than half of older people are interested in moving but lack good local downsizing options.

Conducted by Later Life Ambitions and the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), the survey highlights the mis-match between the needs and wants of older people and the options available to them. It shows that 56 per cent are interested in moving, rising to 70 per cent if the move is to somewhere with care and support as an alternative to a care home. However, 53 per cent say their local area does not have enough downsizing options, including those with care.

Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly supported government action to increase the provision of housing for older people. When asked to rank top priorities for government change, the creation of alternatives to care homes came first, followed by developing a clear national strategy to encourage growth. Also rated as important were providing more information to older people about their choices, making improvements to the planning system, and strengthening consumer protection and clarity.

Michael Voges, executive director of ARCO, said: “The new evidence published today demonstrates starkly the gulf between what housing and care options people want when they are older, and those currently available to them. A majority of older people are interested in moving should there be the right option in their local area, but the current supply of good quality housing and care is simply nowhere near enough to meet demand. When 90 per cent of people call on the government to widen housing options for older people, including those providing care, then it is time to listen and act swiftly.”

Lisa Ray, General Secretary Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance and Later Life Ambitions Partner, added: “Appropriate and comfortable housing helps older people maintain independence, well-being and physical health. Needs and preference evolve with age, but the options available have not kept up with demand. Successive governments have failed to address this issue. With more than half of those who took part in the survey saying they were interested in downsizing, but local offers were not good enough, today’s research shows how urgently solutions are required. It is time for the government to take action.”