11 July 2023

The challenge faced by the Older People’s Housing Taskforce – Amy France writes for Property Week

Commercial Real Estate Partner and Head of Later Living, Amy France, has written for Property Week on how the Older People’s Housing Taskforce will fare in tackling one of the UK’s biggest challenges: How can suitable housing options be provided for later life?

France notes that “Housing has always been intrinsically linked to life chances, and this is no different in later life. Housing that provides the right kind of support and adequate care, if required, can help people live well for longer.”

France writes how a lack of suitable later living options has had a significant impact on the NHS, resulting in a bottleneck whereby patients who no longer need treatment cannot be discharged as they don’t have a home which is suitable to be discharged to. As a result, in January 2023 “more than 19 in 20 beds were occupied across adult general and acute hospital wards, and more than 14,000 of these beds were taken up by patients who no longer required hospital care.”

With the Taskforce’s recommendations due in 12 months, the key message will be around the delivery of new homes, with France asking: “How else will the taskforce meet one of its central aims – providing older people with access to the right homes in the right places?”

This will be a significant challenge when viewed against the government’s scrapping of mandatory housing targets and the prediction of net additional homes each year dropping to 140,000. France writes that local authorities must commit to ensuring a certain proportion of these homes are suitable for older people.

The government has also proposed an increase in planning fees, which has industry support provided that it does actually result in a swifter approval of planning applications. “At the current pace, though, applications and the homes they propose to deliver will take months to materialise, while our population continues to age and our NHS and care system continue to buckle under the pressure.”

France concludes by writing: “Older people don’t want to have to move miles away from their existing home so that they can access retirement communities or sheltered housing. In later life, people want to have the option of moving to a more suitable type of accommodation close to their existing home – the only way that we can ensure this is possible is to support the development of later-living schemes all over the country, and in all different sorts of settings.

“The taskforce needs to take a truly holistic view of the solutions, and cross-department working will be essential in delivering these solutions. Let’s hope that this once-in-a-generation opportunity for meaningful and significant change in delivering housing for older people is seized and much positive change emerges from it.”

This article was originally published by Property Week on 6 July 2023 and can be read here in full (behind their paywall).

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