The problems facing housing for the elderly are becoming more of a political issue. On the back of last week's Housing for Older People report, MPs are now calling for a number of reforms. These include:
-changes to planning legislation including a new use class for retirement living
-SDLT and other tax breaks to encourage downsizing
-a national strategy to build more specialist housing
-improved standards of design for new developments
-telephone advice service to help retired people move
The report and recommendations add to growing calls from local authorities for the Government to tackle this issue as social care budgets come under greater pressure. With many elderly adults unwilling to remove into suitable accommodation their care needs are greater and arise earlier. Elderly adults living in larger family houses also adds pressure to the housing crisis for younger families.
The recommendations offer a sensible solution. Building high quality housing for the elderly is generally more expensive. (The tiny number of new bungalows that get built is one example of that). Without added incentives for developers the older generation will continue to lose out.
An influential group of MPs raised the alarm about the lack of suitable housing for older people last week and issued a number of policy recommendations to boost the retirement living sector. In a report entitled Housing for Older People, members of the communities and local government committee called for a national strategy to enable more specialist housing to be built. They added that the planning system wasn’t helping and called for amendments to planning legislation, including the creation of a dedicated use class for retirement housing, to encourage more development. Committee chairman Clive Betts (Labour) said: “The right kind of housing can help people stay healthy and support them to live independently. This can help reduce the need for home or residential care, bringing real benefits to the individual and also relieving pressure on the health service.”