The Government has today (Tuesday 7 February 2017) unveiled the Housing White Paper to “fix the broken housing market”.
Our CEO, Philippa Jones, responds to what the White Paper said about older people:
“It’s great to see Government recognising the huge triple benefits of encouraging older homeowners to move to smaller, more appropriate homes. Firstly and most importantly it helps the older person remain independent for longer as they will have a home that suits their reducing mobility and is easier to maintain. If the new home is part of a specialist retirement, sheltered or extracare complex it may also offer companionship, activities and access to care and support as their needs change. Secondly it also helps the social care and healthcare systems as the evidence shows that older people in appropriate housing are less likely to need expensive crisis interventions from these services and can be discharged more quickly when they do need them. And thirdly, it also releases a larger home for a family to buy. So I’m very supportive of the plans to explore these issues and come up with some incentives and innovations to promote this.
"But there’s another crucial piece of this complex jigsaw that the White Paper does not resolve. The same benefits for individuals, health and social care systems and freeing up family housing apply in the case of older people who currently rent. But the proposals currently under consultation for the future funding of supported and sheltered housing undermine our confidence in continuing to build these mixed tenure schemes because the benefit system will no longer enable older people to afford the rents and service charges required. That’s a huge missed opportunity and it’s still within the Government’s power to rethink their proposals to replace benefit entitlement for these costs with a local top-up system that gives investing providers like us no certainty of recovering our costs.
"So yes, it’s great to think about incentivising older homeowners to downsize – but please let’s not at the same time create disincentives for older tenants to move out of council and housing association homes that are so desperately needed for homeless and over-crowded families.”
Here’s a snippet of what the White Paper said about older people:
“Helping older people to move at the right time and in the right way could also help their quality of life at the same time as freeing up more homes for other buyers. However there are many barriers to people moving out of family homes that they may have lived in for decades. There are costs, such as fees, and the moving process can be difficult. And they may have a strong emotional attachment to their home which means that where they are moving to needs to be very attractive to them and suitable for their needs over a twenty to thirty year period. There is also often a desire to be close to friends and family, so the issues are not straightforward.
The Government is committed to exploring these issues further and finding sustainable solutions to any problems that come to light. To do this we will draw on the expertise of a wide range of stakeholders including housebuilders (both specialist and mainstream); mortgage lenders; clinical commissioning groups; housing associations and local authorities; and most importantly older people and the groups that represent them. We want to build on the evidence that already exists to help deliver outcomes that are best for older people.
This conversation will generate a range of ideas for incentives and other innovations for the Government to consider: improved information and advice for older people about housing choices, including advice on adaptations; supporting custom build for older people; looking at how community living could work; as well as innovative models of housing with support available. These will sit alongside the Government commitments to fund and develop supported housing, including sheltered, step down and extra care housing, ensuring that the new supported housing funding model continues to provide the means for older people to live independently for longer while relieving pressure on the adult social care system.”