Too many older Londoners are unable to access the housing they need to live independently for longer, according to a new report by think tank Centre for London.
The report, Third Age City: Housing for older Londoners, makes the case for a stronger and more coordinated approach to building homes that suit London’s diverse population of older residents.
It says that London is developing less than half of the new specialist homes needed overall, as land costs make other forms of housing more attractive to developers.
Meanwhile, inner London boroughs are only building 25% of the homes required each year to reach London-wide targets, the report warned.
Outer London is doing better, it said, but homes are not evenly distributed between boroughs. In some local authorities, the number of new homes is actually negative, as existing older people’s housing is converted to other uses.
The report argues that this gap between what older people need and what is actually available is likely to continue to grow: the number of Londoners aged 65+ is expected to increase by more than a quarter (29%) over the next decade. Most of this growth will be in inner London.
The report also highlights that building new homes alone will not be enough to ensure older people have a genuine choice about where they want to live.
Centre for London said existing homes should be made easier to adapt and new homes should be designed with adaptations from the outset. It explained that over half (52%) of Londoners over the age of 65 have a disability, compared to just 9% of those under 65, so “it is vital” that homes are fit for people to age well and live independently.
To respond to these issues, Centre for London has recommend central and local government to set targets for building specialist homes for older people; communicate options; and make homes adaptable as people age.
Claire Harding, research director at Centre for London said: “Older people make a vital contribution to our city and their wants and needs are diverse.
“All Londoners deserve to have a genuine choice about where and how to live as they age but we can’t offer choice if there aren’t enough homes for older people to start with.
“It’s vital that policy makers take this need seriously, and focus both on providing enough homes and making sure people understand the options available to them as they age.”
Abi Wood, chief executive at Age UK London, said: “Whatever your age, housing has a huge impact on both physical and mental health. However for people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older, living conditions can be an even more significant determinant of quality of life.
“Authoritative research on housing for the capital’s rapidly increasing older population has never been more needed. We’re delighted to support this excellent report, which provides a timely and robust analysis of the key housing issues facing older Londoners.”