Shaping the future of accessible housing for older people

In less than 20 years, one in four people will be over 65, and with no joined-up strategy in England to ensure there will be enough accessible housing, the UK Government has set up an Older People’s Housing Taskforce to examine the issues faced – particularly for lower and middle incomes, as well as the need for older people to move into more appropriate or specialist homes.

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Responding to the latest call for evidence, Propertymark has set out some key actions that can help improve provision in the housing market including broadening provision and choice for older people, plus supporting them to continue living in their current home if they wish to do so.

Amplify the voices of older people

We fully support the introduction of an Older Person’s Commissioner in England, which already exists in Wales and Northern Ireland, to work independently across government and hold policymakers to account for delivering a strategy that meets the needs of the future.

Local authorities are in an integral position to support the diverse needs of older people. For instance, this could include supporting the housing needs of specific protected characteristics of older people by working in partnership with registered Propertymark letting agents, private landlords whom they engage with and social housing providers to ensure equality needs are met in an appropriate way in the provision of housing.

Improve the design and accessibility of existing housing

Propertymark has previously highlighted its belief that the lack of housing options for older people actively encourages people to stay in homes that are not appropriate for their needs – only around 2% of our housing stock has been designed with pensioners in mind.

The UK Government must incentivise developers to build more accessible housing to meet the needs of the growing older population and to require Local Authorities to include accessible homes in their local housing plans.

The Disabled Facility Grand funding must also be promoted to private landlords on a national scale, as current awareness of the scheme is very low. Local Authorities must also engage with their local agents and landlords and communicate how improving their properties could help to future-proof their businesses.

Supporting last-time buyers

If the UK Government is serious about tackling the undersupply of housing it must rethink its tax policy which acts as a hindrance to market movement that can provide the housing for older people the country needs, utilising the existing stock more efficiently, and right-sizing becomes an affordable and realistic option.

Retired couple entering house with estate agent
22 Oct 2021
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The sector must also be geared up to be fully inclusive of the needs of older people in both the home buying and selling process, especially as many older people might not have moved home for some time in an industry that is trying to digitalise and modernise.

Download the consultation response