We call on the retirement industry to campaign for more homes for older people

New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) report that the number of households in England will have grown by 2.2 million over ten years – a rise of 221,000 households every year.

The impact of the population boom will impact London in particular where the number of households is expanding by 16% every year –faster than 11.3% growth level previously predicted.

The report points to the urgent need for an increase in house building in London and the South East. Just 115,000 new houses were completed last year, with projections showing that the number of households will grow at twice that level.

The Government has tried to address this issue by introducing a series of new measures to kick start the housing market, including its ‘Help to Buy’ scheme announced in the recent budget, however, some local communities are apparently resistant to new developments.

It is not just the shortfall of family homes that will prove challenging – there is a major shortage of retirement homes in the UK, something which is not being addressed in the government’s building strategy.

According to the ONS, Britain’s ageing population is growing at its fastest rate since the 19th century and is projected to hit 70 million by 2027. Last week retirement housing specialist McCarthy & Stone pointed out that the government is woefully underprepared for the changing nature of the UK population, stating that the construction of 10 Manchester sized cities over the next 20 years is needed to house the ageing population.

The supply of retirement housing is falling far short of demand and it will become a serious problem in years to come. Last year, just 1600 retirement dwellings were built for ownership and there is yet relatively little specialist retirement homes in the UK.

McCarthy & Stone go on to say that the construction of a city for 500,000 people every two years would release up to 3.75m existing family homes and meet the shortfalls.

Many older people are living in large family houses that are expensive to heat and maintain and no longer fit their needs, yet with a lack of attractive retirement property available why should they downsize?

If the government sorted out this part of the equation, it would provide much needed family housing stock and help get the market moving again.

We are calling on the retirement industry and anyone with a vested interest in housing older people to urge the government to address these serious issues. We need to present a united front so the government is compelled to rethink its housing strategy and provide suitable, high quality homes for an ageing population. It has wilfully ignored these issues for far too long.

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