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Committee hears from experts on housing for older people

Tuesday 14 November 2017

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee have questioned experts and providers of specialist retirement housing as part of its inquiry in to housing for older people.

Following a call for evidence into the provision of suitable accommodation for older people, the Communities and Local Government Committee heard from retirement housing specialists, providers and charities on the adequacy of homes for the elderly.

The session on Monday was the second in the inquiry, where two panels of witnesses were questioned - the first on maintaining and adapting mainstream homes and age friendly homes, and the second on specialist retirement properties.

The inquiry, which was originally launched in February of this year, was set up to examine whether the housing on offer for older people is sufficiently available and suitable for their needs and, in doing so, consider how older people wish to live. It was closed in May due to the general election and the newly appointed Committee then reopened the inquiry in June. The Committee will take into account the context of significant housing shortages, rising numbers of older people and pressures on health and social care.

NAEA Propertymark submitted evidence prior to this, which you can read here.

When talking about housing for older people, it is often easy to focus almost exclusively on housing that is specifically designed for, built for or in some ways special for older people. The panel posed the question on whether we should actually be looking at how the mainstream of housing meets the needs of older people, because that is where most older people live. In short, we should be asking “Where do people actually live as they get older?” and “Where do they want to live?”

Currently, 96 per cent of older households are part of mainstream housing, and by 2030 it is predicted that there will be more than 20 million over-65s in the UK, with 20 per cent of those needing some form of mobility aid within the home.

Our Housing 2025 report identified that one of the main barriers for older people and pensioners wishing to sell their family home and relocate is the lack of suitable choices.

The UK’s historic patterns of development have left some parts of the UK with housing stock that is not well-fitted for the demographic profile of these areas. Our analysis from the Housing 2025 report reveals that in most regions, the number of larger homes (i.e. those with three or more bedrooms) being built, far exceeds projected growth in households with two or more dependent children.

NAEA Propertymark is working with the Law Commission in its quest for the introduction of stringent codes of practice to require developers, operators and managing agents to bring ‘event’ fees to the attention of prospective buyers.

In January 2017, we asked NAEA Propertymark members about enquiries they had received from over 55 year olds. Of the sample of respondents, we know that 48.7 per cent of agents received between 0 and 10 enquiries, 29.3 per cent received between 11 and 20 enquiries and 22 per cent received more than 20 enquires. The results show that the main reason was downsizing with 68 per cent, bereavement came in second with 16.3 per cent, affordability at 5.2 per cent and heating costs 0.6 per cent. Other issues sighted included lifestyle change, relocation, retirement or for family members 9.9 per cent.

Furthermore, our survey also asked about how many of those enquiring had a mortgage. The results show that 27 per cent didn’t have a mortgage, 51 per cent said very few had a mortgage, 8.7 per cent said the majority still had a mortgage, 11.3 per cent didn’t know and two per cent gave no answer.

Following the session, MPs are expected to ask about how mainstream homes are adapted and maintained for older people along with the demand for specialist housing, the planning process and the cost of moving.

The inquiry will continue on 20 November with another oral evidence section, made up of financial experts. Whilst the deadline for written submissions has passed, you can still submit your views using the housing for older people web forum. The closing date is Monday 27 November 2017.