A major new report has called on the government to reverse decades of underinvestment in purpose-built housing for older people.
The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) report, which was authored by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, says the key to unlocking the UK’s housing crisis is to ramp up the building of retirement homes in order to encourage downsizers and free up family homes.
It highlights the UK’s 15 million bedroom surplus that will exceed 20 million by 2040, with nearly 13 million people above the age of 65 living in largely unsuitable households.
The study says only 2.5% of the UK’s 29 million homes are defined as ‘retirement housing’ with only 0.7% of housing stock offering purpose-built care services, according to the Urban Land Institute.
Additionally, only 7,000 new homes are built each year specifically for the elderly to serve 180,000 65-plus households that will be created each year over the next decade.
The report calls on the government to promote the benefits of downsizing and to incentivise people to downsize before social care is needed, partly through cuts to Stamp Duty Land Tax.
It also calls for a housing strategy for older people that integrates housing and health and obliges local authorities to plan for retirement housing and identify appropriate sites.
The study highlights purpose-designed retirement communities being developed by Guild Living in partnership with Legal & General in town centres in Bath, Epsom and Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, which will include an array of facilities that will be open for local people to use – including children’s nurseries, community centres, GP surgeries and restaurants.
Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, said: “Our housing stock needs to work for everybody. People of all ages need more supply of housing and better choices, whether they are trying to accommodate a growing family, looking to rightsize to a healthy and safe later living environment, or indeed to retrofit their existing home.
“We know there is strong demand for the right sort of housing for later life living, with great design, supportive communities and good access to friends, family and facilities. Housing policy now needs to catch up with the demands and opportunities of our ageing demographic: getting this right has benefits for everyone.”