“Watershed moment” as Government launches older people’s housing Task Force to transform older people’s housing and care
The launch of the Government’s Older People’s Housing Task Force today has been called a “watershed moment” by ARCO, the membership body for Integrated Retirement Communities, which spearheaded a campaign for it.
The Task Force will be chaired by Julienne Meyer, Emeritus Professor at the School of Health and Psychological Sciences of City, University of London. The Task Force was first announced in the Government’s February 2022 Levelling Up White Paper and is being launched jointly by two government departments: the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The call for a cross-departmental Task Force was first launched by ARCO in February 2020, who highlighted the urgent need for smarter regulation so the UK could go further than the 70,000 Housing-with-Care units currently constructed, which provide a home for just 0.6% of over-65s compared to 5-6% in New Zealand, Australia and the US.
These calls were followed later that year by an open letter to the Prime Minister, coordinated by ARCO and signed by more than 40 politicians and campaigners, calling for the 2020s to be the “decade of Housing-with-Care”. The letter was launched through a cross-party call to action from two former Cabinet Ministers – Lord Kenneth Clarke and Lord David Blunkett.
A landmark review of retirement housing by Professor Les Mayhew of City University published in November last year concluded that 50,000 new homes for older people need to be built each year to meet the needs of the ageing population – or one in four of all new homes.
The Review highlighted the health and wellbeing benefits of Housing-with-Care options like Integrated Retirement Communities, which combine independent living with onsite social care and communal facilities, and reduce pressure on the NHS and care homes. Mayhew also highlighted the impact an expansion of older people’s housing would have on freeing up homes for younger people and families, and reinvigorating high streets.
Michael Voges, Chief Executive of ARCO, said:
“Today’s launch of the Older People’s Housing Task Force is a watershed moment for our sector – signalling true Government backing for an expansion of housing and care provision for those in later life.
“ARCO has led the way in campaigning for a Task Force because it has become clear that meaningful action requires bringing together government policy on housing and social care and breaking down traditional departmental silos.
“By joining forces through the Task Force, the DHSC and DLUHC are showing that new ways of working are possible, and that a transformation in older people’s housing and care is now a core Government priority.”
Damian Green MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Longevity, said:
“Good quality housing for older people is pivotal for improving health and wellbeing, reducing pressure on the NHS and social care, and freeing up homes for younger people and families.
“That’s why it’s so important the Government moves forward with its plans for an Older People’s Housing Task Force – which is why I’m so pleased about today’s announcement.
“With our population rapidly ageing, there is no more time to wait to give older people the housing and care choices they deserve.”
Les Mayhew, Professor of Statistics, Bayes Business School, City University said:
“The current mis-match between the supply of older people’s housing and the needs of our rapidly ageing population is stark. My recent review concluded that 50,000 new homes for older people need to be built each year to reverse this – an ambitious target but one that will bring enormous benefits if achieved.
“The Government has signalled real intent to tackle this issue through the launch of the new Task Force, and it now has a unique opportunity to bring about lasting change by focusing on the key barriers to the growth of housing options like Integrated Retirement Communities.”
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) is the main body representing the Integrated Retirement Community sector in the UK. ARCO was formed in September 2012 by its founder members. ARCO’s members include both private and not-for-profit members, comprising about half of the Integrated Retirement Community sector. ARCO’s website is https://www.arcouk.org/
- The Older People’s Housing Taskforce is a new Task Force jointly hosted by DHSC and DLUHC. The Task Force will have a particular focus on how to create the regulatory and market conditions to unlock private investment in new developments for retirement housing. DHSC expects the Task Force to complete its work in around 12 months, with interim findings available after 6 months. It will deliver recommendations to ministers for driving an increase in the volume and range of housing options for older people.
- Julienne Meyer is Professor Emerita of Nursing: Care for Older People at City, University of London, with Visiting Professorships at University of Hertfordshire and Ulster University. Since retirement in 2019, in addition to her on-going research commitments, Julienne has worked as an Associate of the Kings Fund co-leading the ‘Care Home, Housing, Health and Social Care: Learning Network’ and, together with Rt Hon Paul Burstow and Sir David Pearson CBE, she co-chaired the ‘SCIE Commission on the Role of Housing on the Future of Care and Support’. She is a Non-Executive Director for Elizabeth Finn Homes Ltd and Trustee for My Home Life Charity and The Whiteley Homes Trust.