Call for government strategy on housing for elderly

A committee of MPs has called on the government to give the elderly more help with housing, in a bid to reduce the need for residential care. They have asked for a new strategy with proposals that could include a handyman service, age-proofing of all new build homes and a helpline to offer advice on housing options.

The Commons Communities and Local Government Committee report has shown that 18% of the UK population is aged over 65 and that in the next 25 years the numbers of people aged over 85 was expected to double. The report suggests that appropriate and comfortable homes could give these people more independence and improved health.

The report recommends that the National Planning Policy Framework for England is changed to encourage builders to build more homes specifically for older people and that this policy should be linked to social care policy. Additionally, all new homes should also be age-proofed. Maintenance schemes would also become part of the policy.

Claudia Wood from the think tank, Demos, told the committee that people tend to look for a retirement property in their 70’s or 80’s, at a time when it is most difficult for them to do so. She points out that by making small changes to their homes, they could stay safe and comfortable for longer.

The Local Government Association has welcomed the report and said that there is currently a chronic shortage of homes for the ageing population - with homes for the elderly making up just 6% of current housing stock. The government says that they are committed to helping older people live independently and they are providing funding to help homeowners make changes to their homes such as stairlifts and ramps.

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