9 in 10 say Government must improve housing for older people

New 'Coming of age' report shows high demand for housing-with-care and strengthens call for Task Force
  • Survey shows 70% would move to housing with care as alternative to care home
  • But over half say local downsizing options not good enough
  • Calls strengthened for Government action and Housing-with-Care Task Force

A new survey published today shows that nearly 90% of people think the Government should widen housing options for older people – including those with care, and that more than half of older people are interested in moving but lack good local downsizing options.

The survey, conducted by Later Life Ambitions and the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), illuminates the mis-match between the needs and wants of older people and the options available to them. 56% are interested in moving, rising to 70% if to somewhere with care and support as an alternative to a care home, yet 53% say their local area does not have enough downsizing options, including those with care.

Those surveyed, who included a mix of ages – 62% of whom were 65 or over, overwhelmingly supported Government action to increase the provision of housing for older people. When asked to rank top priorities for Government change, the creation of alternatives to care homes came first, followed by developing a clear national strategy to encourage growth. Also rated as important were providing more information to older people about their choices, making improvements to the planning system, and strengthening consumer protection and clarity.

In addition to broad interest in housing options that include care, 14% said they would like to move specifically to a Retirement Community, an option that combines independent living with the provision of onsite, CQC-regulated care if needed, and a wide range of communal services and facilities. Despite this demand, just 0.6% over-65s currently have the opportunity to live in a Retirement Community in the UK, compared to at least 5-6% in New Zealand, Australia and the US.

Today’s survey results increase the pressure on the Government to act swiftly to expand housing and care options for older people. ARCO and partners including politicians, charities, older people’s representatives and private sector organisations recently called on the Prime Minister to make the 2020s the “decade of housing-with-care”, and for a cross-government Task Force to increase options for older people.

Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said:

The new evidence published today demonstrates starkly the gulf between what housing and care options people want when they are older, and those currently available to them.

“A majority of older people are interested in moving should there be the right option in their local area, but the current supply of good quality housing and care is simply nowhere near enough to meet demand. 

“When 90% of people call on the Government to widen housing options for older people, including those providing care, then it is time to listen and act swiftly.”

Lisa Ray, General Secretary Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance and Later Life Ambitions Partner said:

“Appropriate and comfortable housing helps older people maintain independence, wellbeing and physical health. Needs and preference evolve with age, but the options available have not kept up with demand.

“Successive Governments have failed to address this issue. With more than half of those who took part in the survey saying they were interested in downsizing, but local offers were not good enough, today’s research shows how urgently solutions are required.  It is time for the Government to take action.”




For Further Information Please Contact

ARCO: Gareth Lyon, Head of Policy and Communications, at garethlyon@arcouk.org or on 075350 88498

LLA:  Florence Woodrow at laterlife@connectpa.co.uk or on 07380 686 655


Notes to editors

Download the full 'Coming of age - Better housing options for older people' report here. 


1.  About LLA: Later Life Ambitions brings together the collective voices of over a quarter of a million pensioners through the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance, and the National Association of Retired Police Officers. Our members have ambitious aspirations for the next generation of pensioners. From fair pensions to safe and sustainable care services, and from accessible housing to regular bus services to promote independence, we require bold and forward-looking action from our political leaders. With your support, we want to change the terms of the debate – to focus on the ambitions of pensioners rather than the perceived ‘costs’ to the rest of society. So, we urge you to join us in calling for an aspirational and ambitious future for those in later life.

 2. About ARCO: Founded in 2012, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the principle body representing both private and not-for-profit operators of housing-with-care schemes in the UK. ARCO’s members aim to provide    housing and care solutions to an additional 150,000 people over the next 10 years. We work in three distinct areas, each vital in supporting our Members and growing the sector that helps people to live independently for longer.

  • Setting the Policy Agenda: delivered through policy campaigning work with MPs, Peers, Government Ministers, Local Authorities and other key sector stakeholders to influence the future of much-needed sector specific legislation.
  • Compliance & Regulation: delivered through our Consumer Code and standards framework, with continual assessments of Members to drive high standards for customer and resident experience.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Best Practice: delivered through our extensive events programme, annual What Next? Conference, Network bulletins, online Knowledge Bank, and ARCO Analytics.

 3. About Retirement Communities/housing-with-care: Retirement Communities sit in between traditional retirement houses (which have less extensive staffing and leisure facilities), and care homes, and can be set in urban or suburban locations. There is a growing body of evidence which shows that Retirement Communities keep older people healthy, well and independent for longer – reducing the overall level of care they need and keeping them out of care homes and hospitals. Currently about 77,000 people live in Retirement Communities in the UK but this number is set to grow to 250,000 people by the end of the decade. Retirement Communities are the fastest growing form of social care provision in the UK – with demand significantly exceeding current supply. Typically consisting of individual one or two bedroom flats or houses, located in a development with similar properties, residents have access to a range of services and facilities, which will include optional on-site care, 24-hour staffing, and dining and leisure facilities, and may also include bars, gyms and craft rooms. Retirement Communities are also sometimes referred to as housing-with-care schemes, retirement villages, extra care housing, assisted living, or close care apartments.