Older people’s housing at heart of levelling up as cross-government task force announced
- Ministers “game changing” commitment to older people’s housing task force in Levelling Up White Paper
- Announcement paves the way for better retirement for hundreds of thousands across the country
- Move follows ARCO-led campaign for a task force to improve housing and care for older people
The Government today took a huge stride forward in improving housing and care by announcing a cross-department task force on housing for older people, including a strong focus on housing-with-care.
The task force, announced in the Levelling Up White Paper and bringing different Government departments together to explore ways to expand housing options for older people across the country, has been described as an “exciting new dawn” for the UK by the influential campaigner on older people’s issues, Baroness Sally Greengross OBE.
It comes after the publication of the Government’s Putting People at the Heart of Care White Paper in December, which stated that “every decision about care is a decision about housing”, committed £300m towards supporting housing options, and said the Government would do more to give older people a good range of housing and care options.
The task force is a game changer for levelling-up for older people, and is in line with wider trends to provide more choices for older people that sit between care ‘at home’ and moving to a care home, and follows an open letter to the Prime Minister last year signed by more than 40 politicians and campaigners, calling for the 2020s to be the “decade of housing-with-care”.
The call for a task force was first launched by ARCO in February 2020, who highlighted the urgent need for legislation and regulation so the UK could move beyond the 70,000 housing-with-care units currently built, which provide a home for just 0.6% of over-65s compared to 5-6% in New Zealand, Australia and the US.
The urgent need to expand the sector has been illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Integrated Retirement Communities have kept residents shielded, healthy, and socially connected. Evidence has shown for a long time that Integrated Retirement Communities improve the health and wellbeing of residents – taking pressure off GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes, and freeing up homes for all ages.
These benefits have been recognised by a growing number of influential voices in recent months. Alongside the open letter sent to the Prime Minister, politicians from four different parties joined forces with campaigners to launch a Housing with Care Grey Paper last year, while over 20 MPs and Peers from six different political parties and groups are signed up as official Parliamentary Supporters for Integrated Retirement Communities.
The Integrated Retirement Community sector spans extra care housing settings, available at affordable and social rent and which make a big contribution to levelling up, through to private retirement villages at which older people fund their own care.
Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said:
“We’re delighted that the Government has listened to the calls of older people and campaigners and is making this game changing commitment to level-up housing and care for older people. This task force has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of older people around the country and to put rocket-boosters on the growth of Integrated Retirement Communities.
“The task force will bring different Government departments together and needs to create the policy framework for the sector to flourish – something that will make a huge difference to the lives of older people.
“We’re looking forward to playing our part to help the task force have maximum impact.”
Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor, Vice Chair of ARCO, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the ways in which we look after older people in this country, and the need to radically shift our priorities towards prevention and healthy living.
“Integrated Retirement Communities enhance the health, wellbeing and social connection of older people, reducing their time spent in GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes, and bringing greater happiness and independence to their lives.
“The announcement of a cross-government task force is therefore extremely welcome.”
Nick Sanderson, Chief Executive of Audley Villages and Chair of ARCO, said:
“ARCO has been calling for the creation of a cross-government task force for almost two years now, so today’s announcement by the Government is hugely pleasing.
“At present, just 0.6% of over-65s in the UK benefit from Integrated Retirement Communities, and we urgently need better clarity and consumer protection to spur the sector’s growth and spread its benefits, so it can help level up our country.
“By combining the expertise of multiple Government departments, the task force will provide the political vehicle through which to foster collaboration and unite policy on housing and social care.”
Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, Crossbench Peer and Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre – UK, said:
“While in our current era we enjoy longer lifespans than ever, we don’t enjoy longer healthspans.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to reflect on our society and reconceptualise how we care for older people – so that social care more closely meets different levels of need, and gives people the chance to live their extra years to the full.
“The announcement of a task force on housing for older people heralds an exciting new dawn as we embrace the unique possibilities brought by our ageing population.”
Sir Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of Legal & General, said:
“Investors have long recognised that new forms of social care are the future, not only providing high-quality care and support but enhancing independence, activity, health and social connection.
“We are ready with money and determination to bring about this change – but up to now the problem has been a lack of clarity and consumer regulation around new models like housing-with-care.
“We must ensure the new task force marks the end of this period of uncertainty and ushers a new era where investors can play their full part in making housing-with-care the best it can possibly be.”
For further information please contact: Gareth Lyon, Head of Policy and Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07535 088498
- Notes for Editors-
What are Integrated Retirement Communities?
Integrated Retirement Communities, otherwise known as housing-with-care, offer older people the opportunity to live independently in their own home as part of a wider community. Lifestyle, wellbeing and care services are available to support people’s independence and aspirations. Integrated Retirement Communities are run by a range of not-for-profit and private operators, with two-thirds of the sector being affordable or social rent.
How are these communities integrated?
Apartment homes are available for purchase, part purchase or rent, alongside a range of choices:
- Integrated Lifestyle: Facilities like restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, community halls and gardens offer optional activities and social opportunities
- Integrated Well-being and Care: Personal and domestic care can be delivered within people’s homes if they wish. Dedicated staff teams are on site 24/7
- Integrated with Wider Communities: Connections with wider communities through family, friends, intergenerational, volunteering or leisure opportunities are valued and cherished
Associated Retirement Communities Operators (ARCO) is the main body supporting Integrated Retirement Communities across the UK, setting standards for the sector, and representing the interests of consumers and providers at national level.