Cross-party group of MPs and Peers have joined forces with leaders from academia, finance, local politics, and housing to call for urgent Government action to improve housing and care options for older people, in a new ‘Housing with Care Grey Paper’.
The Grey Paper, which features essays and policy recommendations from 14 high-profile authors including politicians from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP, says “the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the urgent need to provide better support for older and more vulnerable people”, and that “we have a duty to transform our housing and care provision so that it provides security, dignity, health and flourishment in later life”.
The report’s authors set out a series of concrete policy actions for the Government to improve housing and care provision, including:
- A cross-government Housing with Care Task Force
- Greater clarity in the planning system to define different types of older people’s housing, including a new planning category for housing with care
- Better financial incentives for older people to ‘rightsize’ into more suitable properties
- Expanding the number of ‘lifetime homes’ fit for all ages
- Securing a better deal for paid and unpaid care workers
- A sustainable funding formula for social care, including a Universal Care Entitlement
The Grey Paper is published at what it calls a “critical juncture” for the UK’s support for older people. While the Government is currently consulting on its ‘Planning for the future’ White Paper, social care reforms are expected late in the year, both of which will have a significant impact on the lives of older people.
The housing with care sector, which the Grey Paper focuses on, combines independent living for older people with the provision of onsite care and support if needed. Housing with care providers have helped support older people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing high-quality care and helping to reduce loneliness.
Yet the sector only provides a home for 0.6% of over-65s, considerably less than the 5-6% seen in similar countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The Grey Paper’s recommendations aim to redress that imbalance.
You can read the full Housing with Care Grey Paper here.
Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said:
“The new Housing with Care Grey Paper demonstrates just how much cross-party and cross-society support there is for better housing provision and expansion of care options for older people.
“We’re delighted to have received 14 thoughtful and incisive contributions from figures across politics, academia, finance, housing and more, and we urge the Government to take their recommendations seriously.
“What unites the pieces is the sense that bringing about change is going to require cross-government action, and that’s exactly why we’re calling for a Housing with Care Task Force to be set up with immediate effect.”
Bob Blackman, Conservative MP and Member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, said:
“There is growing interest from both the public and private sector in housing with care for older people – but a number of policy obstacles are currently holding growth back.
“There are a staggering number of terms used to describe housing with care, and we’ve got to get a lot clearer with definitions so that policy-makers and older people alike know what different housing options are. Targets need to be set for each type so that we increase supply quickly.
“Only by taking action now will we create housing and care options which provide independence, health and social integration for older people.”
Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor Hanover, said:
“In the next 15 years, 4.4 million more people will be aged 65 or over. We cannot wait any longer to secure a positive future for today’s and tomorrow’s older generations.
“The Government has got to finalise its ‘clear plan’ to resolve social care as soon as possible – including measures to boost housing with care which improves the independence, health and wellbeing of older people.
“There are challenges for us all; for businesses, for public services and for each one of us as individuals. Action now can positively change how we age.”