Last month Norman Lamb MP questioned why there was ‘market failure’ when there is such an “enormous burgeoning demand” for the supply of good quality housing choice for older people. Then Demos released ‘Top of the Ladder’, research which highlighted only 2% of Britain’s housing stock is actually retirement property available for sale.
And now we have Peers in the House of Lords calling for amendments to the Care Bill to ensure that adults with care needs have access to suitable accommodation. We agree – surely a roof over your head is an integral part of the health and social care mechanism.
At last the nation seems to have woken up to the supply versus demand challenge for retirement housing. Finally there is a realisation that retirement homes shortage could be the next housing crisis.
But how did we get to be in this situation in the first place?
The demographic time bomb is well rehearsed: over 85s will increase from 1.4 million to 7.8million by 2050. I come from a marketing background and in any other sector this growth would be grasped as an amazing, never before encountered, opportunity. We’ll never run out of customers with such a rapidly ageing population!
Yet the market has failed to recognise this opportunity and plan accordingly. Choice is limited.
Consequently, older people leave it until crisis point to move out of their family homes because these choices are often institutionalised and grim. As a YouGov poll undertaken in 2011 discovered, 99.4% of people when questioned did not want to move into a care home when they were older.
You only have to watch the Channel 4 programme ‘Fabulous Fashionistas’ – trending on Twitter globally – to understand the desire we all have to keep on living life to the full. And that includes where we live.
Older people want to stay in their own home – we can all understand that. But they’re not averse to downsizing for the right property. So let’s get on with building great properties they can downsize into and continue living, socialising and enjoying life.
This is exactly what we at Evermore, and our colleagues at a Million Homes Million Lives, are doing. We’re ready, we’ve got innovative and appealing property designs and we’re getting on with our build programme.
At the same time, we urge the Government to focus on enabling the retirement build programme to happen with pace and scale. The second round of Build to Rent funding from HCA to drive sustainable housing options is a step in the right direction but more can be done.
Most of all, let’s prioritise action. We’ll not waste time talking @evermore1st
Founder & Director, Evermore