Compared to other countries, there is a severe under-supply of housing-with-care schemes in the UK. In order to address this imbalance, enabling operators to provide more housing-with-care options must include overcoming barriers represented by lack of clarity and confusion in the planning system.
The Public Policy Problem
- Housing with care schemes are currently undefined in the planning system, and sit between care homes (C2 use) and residential accommodation (C3). This means that:
- Without a clearer definition, there is little guidance that helps local authorities plan for this type of housing for older people.
- Local authorities find it hard to categorise which use class housing-with-care developments should sit in, leading to delays.
- There is a wide and inconsistent range of planning conditions imposed for housing with care schemes, creating operational challenges.
- Approaches to CIL and affordable housing for housing with care schemes vary widely across the country.
- Taken together, these issues result in a high level of planning risk, leading to lower supply and ultimately higher prices for consumers.
- It also leads to a high number of speculative applications and consents which never get built, creating waste in the planning system (see research on planning consents by Carterwood and ARCO)
The Public Policy Solution
In order to address these issues and increase the availability of housing and care options for older people, the Task Force should consider the following measures:
- The setting of national targets for housing for older people (and housing-with-care in particular) for all local authorities in the UK
- The creation of a national system of monitoring delivery of housing for older people against these targets
- The creation of a clear definition for housing-with-care in the planning system under a separate use class as recommended by research with the County Council Network (or alternatively, clarification under which circumstances housing with care schemes should sit within the existing C2 use class)
- This should be linked to stringent minimum standards of care and service delivery, including mechanisms for monitoring compliance with planning obligations
- The use class/clarified status should also include clear guidance on how to treat housing-with-care for the purposes of CIL and affordable housing.