With an ageing population, the question of how to address the UK’s housing crisis for older people is an acute one. Build rates are generally substantially lower than forecast need and the issue is exacerbated further for older people; who must also consider accessibility and current or potential future care requirements.

This paper opens in section one with a summary on the current context in the UK, beginning with details on build figures and population numbers for the older demographic. It progresses to set the scene in terms of tenure type for the older population; emphasising the disproportionate level of home ownership among over-55s, particularly in comparison to younger people in the 16-24 age range. Section one also covers the topics of home ownership and under-occupation.

In section two, discussion moves to housing accessibility and the tensions which exist between the desire to remain in one’s home with the need to adapt to altering needs in later life.

Section three provides information on specialist housing along with discussion on the current standing of the sector, the analysis and recommendations that have been made as to its utilisation and the positive impact that specialist housing can have from the perspective of the NHS. Concerns with retirement leasehold property around charges and perceived ‘sharp practices’ are also addressed. The section contains a short analysis of the sector’s prospects for future development.

Section four outlines a number of further issues and initiatives, including the Homeshare scheme. This section also covers the prevailing perception of a relatively asset rich but cash poor older demographic; with a brief discussion on how the picture may not be as clear cut as it seems. Skewed figures, which provide an image of a fairly robust financial standing in the demographic are proven misleading when the detail is analysed. Consideration is also given to whether older people’s assets could be released to assist in potential care costs and home maintenance; and the hurdles that may be faced in doing so.

The paper closes with section five, which considers the factors which a successful older peoples’ housing strategy might address.

Publisher: House of Commons
Published Date: 2015
Author: Shiro Ota
Length: 35pp