A Possible Solution to the UK’s Housing Crisis for the Elderly

The United States isn't the only nation feeling the burden of a housing crisis. The UK is also dealing with this, especially in terms of providing housing for the elderly.

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor

London, England—The United States isn’t the only nation feeling the burden of a housing crisis. The UK is also dealing with this, especially when it comes to housing for the elderly.

In the United Kingdom, currently there are 10 million people over the age of 65, with projections of 16.7 million in that category by 2035. As of now, there are 105,000 specialist retirement homes for owner occupation. Britain is building fewer of these retirement communities than it did in the 1980s.

McCarthy & Stone, a British retirement home provider, has written to MPs to urge them to support the recently published National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”), which proposes to make changes to the planning system and address the senior housing crisis.

“There is no getting away from the fact that the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis,” Paul Teverson, head of public affairs, McCarth & Stone Retirement Lifestyles Limited, tells MHN. “Specialist housing for older people has not kept pace with the rate that the UK’s population is ageing. Millions of older people now live in properties that are unsuited to their needs and which are often in the wrong location. This leads to a lack of independence, reduced personal well being and feelings of insecurity. In our view, we have a more obligation to provide the right type of homes for our communities.”

McCarthy & Stone’s letter to MPs notes how the NPPF underlines the government’s commitment to meet local housing needs. The key points highlight several issues, including meeting the housing needs for the elderly, encouraging private sector investment in retirement homes and ensuring housing needs assessments are taken.

“We welcome the overall direction of the changes, which we feel will remove many of the obstacles that prevent the delivery of new homes, while at the same time protecting environmentally sensitive areas,” Teverson says. “While there are areas where the Government’s reforms could be strengthened further to benefit older people, we feel they are certainly a step in the right direction.”

McCarthy & Stone has submitted a formal response on the consultation on the NPPF, making further recommendations. Though McCarthy & Stone doesn’t believe that the NPPF provides all the answers to solve the housing crisis for the elderly in Britain, it is a step in the right direction.

“The policy changes coming forward from the Government to reform the housing and planning system are radical,” Teverson says. “But when housing is in such short supply, perhaps it is time for a radical solution.”

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