The report follows an Inquiry established by the All-Party Parliamentary Group and concludes that older people’s housing is neglected in rural areas.
The report makes ‘rural proofing’ recommendations to increase the supply, quality and range of more appropriate age-friendly housing, and further suggests an adaptation of the Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) principles when designing new homes for older people in rural areas, highlighting that new housing could preserve independence for older people and save NHS and social care funds.
The report also recognises the need to build greater resilience and connectivity amongst local communities across all ages in the countryside. The Inquiry saw first-hand and heard evidence that building hubs for older people within villages also has the added benefit of retaining their support networks of family and friends. The Inquiry therefore also calls for wider community-led support solutions that could help people remain in their own village and stay connected in isolated rural communities.
If councils are given the right tools, we could trigger that residential revolution and deliver the homes our older residents need, but with an ageing population, the clock is ticking. As a country, we owe it to our older people to tackle this problem urgently – the time to act is now.”
Responding to the report Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“This report rightly acknowledges the urgent need to supply more housing for older people and the necessary infrastructure, especially in rural areas. With half of rural households expected to be headed by an over 65 in just two decades, it has never been more essential that we have a national focus on providing homes that meet the needs of our parents, grandparents and all the older people in our communities, which is something the LGA has consistently called for.
“Councils want to see a desperately-needed residential revolution in older people’s housing. However, they need to have the tools to build these appropriate homes, including the freedom to borrow to build new homes across the country, fully resourced planning teams so approvals can be given to appropriate homes as quickly as possible, and allowed to retain 100 per cent of receipts from Right to Buy sales so that homes sold can be replaced.
“There is a clear link between housing, health and social care which means ensuring we have enough, appropriate housing for older people must be a serious consideration in the forthcoming social care green paper. It’s essential that housing for older people enables them to live independently at home for longer, by including adaptations which enable them to get around easily and support them at home.
“If councils are given the right tools, we could trigger that residential revolution and deliver the homes our older residents need, but with an ageing population, the clock is ticking. As a country, we owe it to our older people to tackle this problem urgently – the time to act is now.”