The UK is suffering from a housing crisis affecting all ages as successive governments have continually failed to build enough homes for the UK’s growing population.
Young people are increasingly financially blocked from owning their own home without access to the Bank of Mum and Dad. Hard-working families are handing over more than half their gross income to landlords. But what perhaps receives less attention is that older people are living in properties that are unsuitable for their age or medical conditions. The National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned that more than 100,000 new homes are urgently needed for older people. Almost eight million over-55s are living in houses that will be unsuitable for them as they age. The “bed-blocking” crisis in the NHS (where people, often elderly people, are medically fit to be discharged but are not able to look after themselves at home – as examined in previous Prestige blogs) will continue and worsen unless more specially adapted homes are made available. Age UK estimates that 1.9 million “bed days” were lost last year because elderly people could not be discharged from hospital as they had nowhere to go.
This wastes huge sums of money that the NHS and care sector can ill-afford and prevents the elderly from returning to the comfort of their own homes. A YouGov survey in December 2014, commissioned by the NHF, found more than half (52%) of homeowners surveyed aged over 55 said they would have to move or adapt their current home if they developed care needs or mobility problems. It is clear, therefore, that we urgently need to start building flexible homes that can be adapted to the changing needs of our ageing population. There will be three million more adults aged over 65 in England by 2030. Without a ready supply of suitable homes, our already over-stretched NHS simply won’t be able to cope. PM David Cameron has promised to make 200,000 homes available to first-time buyers in England by 2020 if the Tories win the election. The coalition government had already announced plans for 100,000 cut-price homes for people aged under 40 but Mr Cameron has said he will double it if elected, giving more people the security of owning their own home. We must get behind the NHF’s call to give as much priority to homes for older people as homes designed for first-time buyers and younger families. As part of the Homes for Britain coalition, the NHF wants all political parties to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation and for the next government to publish a long-term plan that sets out how they will achieve this.