Politicians and leaders join forces to call for urgent action on older people’s housing and care

New 'Housing with Care Grey Paper' published
  • New ‘Housing with Care Grey Paper’ says the UK is at a “critical juncture”
  • Recommendations include cross-government Housing with Care Task Force

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers have joined forces with leaders from academia, finance, local politics, and housing to call for urgent Government action to improve housing and care options for older people, in a new ‘Housing with Care Grey Paper’ being published on Monday.

The Grey Paper, which features essays and policy recommendations from 14 high-profile authors including politicians from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP, says “the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the urgent need to provide better support for older and more vulnerable people”, and that “we have a duty to transform our housing and care provision so that it provides security, dignity, health and flourishment in later life”.

The report’s authors set out a series of concrete policy actions for the Government to improve housing and care provision, including:

  • A cross-government Housing with Care Task Force
  • Greater clarity in the planning system to define different types of older people’s housing, including a new planning category for housing with care
  • Better financial incentives for older people to ‘rightsize’ into more suitable properties
  • Expanding the number of ‘lifetime homes’ fit for all ages
  • Securing a better deal for paid and unpaid care workers
  • A sustainable funding formula for social care, including a Universal Care Entitlement

The Grey Paper is published at what it calls a “critical juncture” for the UK’s support for older people. While the Government is currently consulting on its ‘Planning for the future’ White Paper, social care reforms are expected late in the year, both of which will have a significant impact on the lives of older people.

The housing with care sector, which the Grey Paper focuses on, combines independent living for older people with the provision of onsite care and support if needed. Housing with care providers have helped support older people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing high-quality care and helping to reduce loneliness.

Yet the sector only provides a home for 0.6% of over-65s, considerably less than the 5-6% seen in similar countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The Grey Paper’s recommendations aim to redress that imbalance.  

The Housing with Care Grey Paper was edited by the representative body for the housing with care sector, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators). Its full list of authors are:

  • Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, Crossbench Peer and Chief Executive, International Longevity Centre – UK
  • Bob Blackman, Conservative MP and Member, Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee  
  • Damian Green, Conservative MP and Chair, All Party Group on Longevity
  • Dr Lisa Cameron, SNP MP and Chair, All Party Group on Health
  • Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Labour Peer and former Director, Age Concern Scotland
  • Lord Shipley OBE, Liberal Democrat Peer and former Housing Spokesperson  
  • Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive, Anchor Hanover and Vice Chair, ARCO  
  • Nick Sanderson, Founder and Chief Executive, Audley Villages and Chair, ARCO
  • Les Mayhew, Head of Global Research at the International Longevity Centre - UK and Professor of Statistics at City University’s Business School
  • Phil Bayliss, CEO of Senior Living, Legal & General
  • Cllr David Fothergill, Adult Social Care Spokesperson, County Councils Network
  • Jeremy Porteus, Chief Executive, Housing Learning and Improvement Network
  • Philippa Fieldhouse, Managing Director, Richmond Care Villages
  • Chandra McGowan, former CEO of The Whiteley Homes Trust and personal, organisational, and social change coach


You can read the full Housing with Care Grey Paper here


Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said:

“The new Housing with Care Grey Paper demonstrates just how much cross-party and cross-society support there is for better housing provision and expansion of care options for older people.  

“We’re delighted to have received 14 thoughtful and incisive contributions from figures across politics, academia, finance, housing and more, and we urge the Government to take their recommendations seriously.

“What unites the pieces is the sense that bringing about change is going to require cross-government action, and that’s exactly why we’re calling for a Housing with Care Task Force to be set up with immediate effect.”


Bob Blackman, Conservative MP and Member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, said:

“There is growing interest from both the public and private sector in housing with care for older people – but a number of policy obstacles are currently holding growth back.

“There are a staggering number of terms used to describe housing with care, and we’ve got to get a lot clearer with definitions so that policy-makers and older people alike know what different housing options are. Targets need to be set for each type so that we increase supply quickly.

“Only by taking action now will we create housing and care options which provide independence, health and social integration for older people.”


Lord Foulkes, Labour Peer and former Director of Age Concern Scotland, said:

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a dramatic insight into the vital role played by housing with care settings in providing high-quality care and support to older people.

“We urgently need to draw on the experience of countries like New Zealand and Australia to expand the sector and provide a true diversity of housing and care options for those in later life.

“I strongly support the call for a national Housing with Care Task Force to achieve this – alongside an important role for devolved governments and local councils, who all have a part to play in transforming the lives of older people.”


Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor Hanover, said:  

In the next 15 years, 4.4 million more people will be aged 65 or over. We cannot wait any longer to secure a positive future for today’s and tomorrow’s older generations.

“The Government has got to finalise its ‘clear plan’ to resolve social care as soon as possible – including measures to boost housing with care which improves the independence, health and wellbeing of older people.

There are challenges for us all; for businesses, for public services and for each one of us as individuals. Action now can positively change how we age.” 


Les Mayhew, Head of Global Research at the International Longevity Centre UK and Professor of Statistics at City University’s Business School, said:  

“There is currently a woeful shortage of retirement housing for rent and purchase in the UK, restricting the choices and freedom of older people to live as they wish in their later years.

“The private sector has a big role to play in tackling this under-supply, but the Government must also do much more, by reforming the planning system to make it easier to invest in retirement housing, and introducing better financial incentives for older people to ‘rightsize’.

“Taking these steps will allow us all to live much happier, healthier lives as we age.”




For Further Information Please Contact

Sam Dalton, Policy and External Affairs Manager at ARCO, at samdalton@arcouk.org or 07722553856.


Notes to Editor

1. About ARCO: Founded in 2012, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the principal 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.

2. About housing with care: Housing with care sits 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 housing with care keeps 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 housing-with-care in the UK but this number is set to grow to 250,000 people by the end of the decade. 

Housing with care is 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. Housing with care is also sometimes referred to as retirement communities, retirement villages, extra care housing, assisted living, or close care apartments.