A cross-party group of MPs and leaders from academia, finance, local politics and housing has called for urgent government action to improve housing and care options for older people.
The ‘Housing with Care Grey Paper’ says “the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the urgent need to provide better support for older and more vulnerable people”, and that “we have a duty to transform our housing and care provision so that it provides security, dignity, health and flourishment in later life”.
The report’s authors set out a series of concrete policy actions for the government to improve housing and care provision, including a cross-government Housing with Care Task Force; greater clarity in the planning system to define different types of older people’s housing, including a new planning category for housing with care; and better financial incentives for older people to ‘rightsize’ into more suitable properties.
It also hopes for the expansion of the number of ‘lifetime homes’ fit for all ages; securing a better deal for paid and unpaid care workers; and a sustainable funding formula for social care, including a Universal Care Entitlement.
Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor Hanover, one of the report’s authors, said: “In the next 15 years, 4.4 million more people will be aged 65 or over. We cannot wait any longer to secure a positive future for today’s and tomorrow’s older generations.
“The government has got to finalise its ‘clear plan’ to resolve social care as soon as possible – including measures to boost housing with care which improves the independence, health and wellbeing of older people.
“There are challenges for us all; for businesses, for public services and for each one of us as individuals. Action now can positively change how we age.”
The housing with care sector only provides a home for 0.6% of over-65s, considerably less than the 5-6% seen in similar countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The Grey Paper’s recommendations aim to redress that imbalance.