All new homes must be ‘age proofed’ in face of aging population, advises government committee

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All new home should be built to accessible and adaptable standards so that they are ‘age proofed’ and can meet the needs of older people.

That is the recommendation of a government committee which has called for ministers to introduce a national strategy for older people’s housing.

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee’s report on Housing for Older People recommends that the government should recognise the link between homes and health and social care.

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The committee also said that the National Planning Policy Framework should be amended to encourage the development of more housing for older people and that councils identify a target proportion of new housing to be developed for this purpose, as well as publishing a strategy which explains how they intend to meet the housing needs of older people in their area.

It wants additional funding for Home Improvement Agencies operating services including a handyperson service for older people, and a range of measures to help older people overcome the barriers.

Clive Betts MP, who is chairing the Communities and Local Government Committee, said that with an ageing population, “it is vital that the link between housing and health and social care is recognised”.

“A new national strategy for older people, taking on board the recommendations of our report, should be linked to the government’s forthcoming social care green paper.

“The right kind of housing can help people stay healthy and support them to live independently. This can help reduce the need for home or residential care, bringing real benefits to the individual and also relieving pressure on the health service. The green paper must consider the range of housing for older people, from mainstream and accessible homes to supported and extra care housing, as well as access to adaptations and repairs.”

Age UK commended the report, believing it could form the basis of the comprehensive, joined-up national strategy on older people’s housing.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We agree with the committee that all new housing should meet higher accessibility standards so it can meet the needs of an ageing population, and that all local authorities should be required to have a strategy to meet the housing needs of older people now and in the future.

“The report suggests a number of practical measures that could be implemented quickly and easily, making a huge difference to older people’s housing choices as well as promoting better health and wellbeing. Many of the measures suggested would be relatively low cost and would significantly reduce pressure on the health and social care system. This is why housing must be a key component of the Government’s Social Care Green Paper, due for publication this summer.”

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