Sector unites in call for taskforce to unlock growth

Calls for Government to "level up" housing and care for older people


Retirement Community Sector unites to call for Government task force on housing with care options for older people

The UK’s Retirement Community operators have issued a call for a Government task force to help tackle the obstacles which are holding back the growth in supply of good quality housing-with-care for older people.

At the AGM of the sector’s trade body, ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators), operators threw their weight behind the initiative which is designed to bring “clarity and consistency” to regulation which is characterised as “conflicting, confused and contradictory” for residents, prospective residents and investors.

This year has seen reports from the County Councils Network and Professor Les Mayhew making a call for the Government to adopt a more joined-up approach to the sector. This should bring together the range of Government departments which touch on the sector, including the Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Office as well as representatives of the sector and local Government. Previous government task forces, such as on the Private Rented Sector, have shown the potential of joined up working between governmental and sector stakeholders.

The coronavirus crisis has also brought into stark relief the need to expand choices for older people seeking housing and care.

The well attended AGM took place digitally for the first time and saw the re-electeion of Nick Sanderson, CEO of Audley Villages, as ARCO Chair and Jane Ashcroft, CEO of Anchor Hanover, as ARCO Vice-Chair.

Nick Sanderson, Chair of ARCO and CEO of Audley Villages, said:

“This is a seminal moment for the sector. We can see clearly now that older people want to make the most of their retirement and stay healthy, connected and independent for longer.

“It is clear that we need a much more concerted and intelligent approach to allow this sector to achieve its potential. The sector is ready to do its part to growth housing and care options for older people in the UK. We are now asking the Government to play their part too – we need a task force now.”

Jane Ashcroft, Vice-Chair of ARCO and CEO of Anchor Hanover, said:

“Retirement Communities are already providing tens of thousands of older people with great housing and care – but we can and must do more. We know that there are hundreds of thousands more older people at all income levels who need to be provided for. This is a chance for the Government to “level up” for older people.



For Further Information Please Contact

Gareth Lyon, Head of Policy and Communications, at or on 075350 88498


Notes to editors

  1. About ARCO: ARCO (the Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the main trade association for operators of housing-with-care developments for older people. ARCO was founded in 2012, and its members provide housing-with-care options to more than 30,000 people. ARCO sets high standards, and all ARCO members must adhere to the externally assessed ARCO Consumer Code. ARCO does not represent the traditional retirement or sheltered housing model (where there are limited services and no care is available), or care homes.
  2. About Retirement Communities: Retirement Communities typically consist 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. They sit in between traditional retirement houses (which have less extensive staffing and leisure facilities), and care homes, and can be in urban or suburban locations.


  1. About Vision 2030: Vision 2030 is ARCO’s vision for 250,000 people to be living in retirement communities by 2030. The vision sets out ten areas of work for the sector in order to achieve this. These are:
  • Development of a clear customer proposition
  • Effective self-regulation
  • Enhanced health and wellbeing
  • Intelligent use of technology
  • Flexible models of tenure
  • Sustainable funding streams
  • Sector-specific legislation
  • Comprehensive and robust data
  • Clarity in the planning system
  • A highly trained workforce


For more information on Vision 2030, please contact Gareth Lyon, Head of Policy and Communications, at

  1. Benefits of Retirement Communities:
  • Meeting the needs of an ageing population: Older people need and want choice in their housing for later life. However, at present housing options for older people are limited. Retirement Communities are an important element of housing choice for older people. Developing the capacity of the Retirement Community sector is vital to ensuring that the UK’s housing market is fit to meet the needs of an ageing population.
  • Promoting independence, security and wellbeing: Older people living in Retirement Communities are likely to experience lower levels of loneliness and social isolation. A 2014 study by the International Longevity Centre found that 82% of respondents in Retirement Communities said they hardly or never felt isolated, and only 1% often felt isolated.
  • Reducing costs and encouraging more efficient use of resources: Residents in Retirement Communities are able to receive specialist care in their homes if needed, enabling them to return home from hospital earlier. They are also less likely to enter hospital. For example, one way in which Retirement Communities improve health is by preventing falls. Retirement Community properties are designed and built with adaptations to support independence and research shows that those living in these specialist homes are between 1.5 and 2.8 times less likely to have a fall than those living in homes without adaptations. This helps to reduce pressure on NHS services.
  • A recent study found that NHS costs were reduced by 38% for those moving into Retirement Community housing and NHS costs for ‘frail’ residents had reduced by 51.5% after 12 months.
  • Responding to the housing shortage: Older people moving to a Retirement Community will typically ‘downsize’, freeing up much needed and under-occupied family sized homes. If all those interested in moving into a retirement property were able to do so, research suggests that approximately 3.29 million properties would be released, including nearly 2 million three-bedroom homes.