NEWS:

The Communities and Local Government Committee has today released their report on Housing for Older People following their enquiry into the topic. ILC-UK welcomes the conclusions and recommendations included in the report, along with the Committee’s calls for a national strategy for older people’s housing.

We are also extremely pleased to see our own contributions to the enquiry feature in the report. Along with our written submission of evidence drawing on our research in this area, Dr Brian Beach, Senior Research Fellow, gave oral evidence to the committee. In particular, we are glad the committee’s report highlighted the following:

  • Drawing on the work in our recently published report, Stronger Foundations, Brian highlighted how part of the challenge around specialist housing was in the vast array of terms used to describe the diverse options available. This creates a confusing market space for older people. The Committee states, “The Government should instigate discussions between developers and providers of specialist housing with the aim of agreeing on a consistent terminology to describe the housing and related services on offer.” (p. 39, ¶84)
     
  • Our research also noted how international models – in New Zealand, in particular – include regulation that provides robust consumer protection. The legislation for this provides the basis to help older people understand what the housing offer is and what the costs will entail (particularly with respect to ‘event fees’, which are paid at the end of a residency). Brian’s evidence contributed to the Committee stating, “We therefore recommend that the Government should accept the Law Commission’s recommendations on event fees and give legislative backing to its proposed code of practice. In addition, consideration should be given to introducing a legislative framework for extra care housing (as has been introduced in New Zealand) to bring together regulations relating to the provision of housing, care, and other support services.” (p. 45, ¶101)

Housing in the UK continues to experience a crisis, and there are certain ways it could be improved by addressing the needs of people later in life. With current housing policy imbalanced to the benefit of (albeit only some) younger adults – such as the emphasis on first-time buyers – we are optimistic that the Committee’s recommendations may help stimulate movement in this direction. Indeed, we strongly endorse further work by government to reconsider how later life housing is classified for planning purposes, as this appears to be an impediment to the delivery of homes (p. 56, ¶126).

The report’s overarching conclusion – to establish a national strategy on housing provision for older people – is also a welcomed call, as this is an important first step to seeing tangible action on the ground and real movement to address the issues that continue to stifle the development of later life housing at the scale that is needed. However, such a strategy should also be held to account, so that it delivers in a meaningful and comprehensive way. Many of the issues raised in the Committee’s enquiry – such as health and social care – face their own challenges in different areas and departments. It will be important that efforts to progress in later life housing under such a strategy do not fall short on themselves because of poor coordination in other areas of priority.

The Committee's report, 'Housing for Older People' can be accessed on the Parliamentary website at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/370/37003.htm#_idTextAnchor000

Dr Brian Beach's latest report on international lessons for the Housing-with-Care sector in the UK, 'Stronger Foundations', can be downloaded from http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/stronger_foundations_international_lessons_for_the_housing_with_care_sector

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