Older people should be given a greater choice where to live during their retirement under plans outlined today (21 March 2015) by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis.
With around 1 in 6 people aged over 65, Mr Lewis said anyone wanting to move should have the option to do so – but should also get help if they want to stay in their own home.
The minister is publishing new planning guidance asking councils to take better account of the needs of their older residents when planning new homes in their area.
This will make clear the responsibility councils have to ensure a wide range of different properties are built in their area to meet the diverse housing needs of people as they get older – including for bungalows where they are needed.
Brandon Lewis said:
As we get older our housing needs change – I want to be sure that anyone in that situation has a range of options to choose from.
No one should feel forced to move out of the home they love just because of their changing circumstances, which is why we’ve made millions of pounds available to adapt homes for older people.
But I want to see councils doing more, and thinking about building more bungalows and other types of homes to meet the needs of their older residents, so if someone does choose to move the properties are there for them to choose from.
Building more homes
Since 2010 the government has introduced a range of measures to get the country building again as part of its long term economic plan.
This includes levering in billions of pounds in public and private funding in affordable housebuilding, and reforming the planning system to give local people a greater say over how their local area is developed.
It means planning permission was granted on 253,000 homes in 2014, and housebuilding starts are at a 7-year high.
On top of this £1 billion is available to adapt existing properties to suit the needs of older and disabled people.
New guidance will make clear how councils can plan ahead to meet the needs of an ageing population, and consider the types of homes they would need to build locally.
This can include bungalows – but it can also mean retirement housing, ‘extra care’ housing which offers on-site support, homes designed with older people in mind offering for example, step-free access, downstairs bathrooms, or wider halls and doorways.
This is one of a range of measures the government has taken to support older people to ensure their homes meet their changing needs, including:
£315 million Department of Health fund over 5 years to provide more than 4,000 specialist homes by 2018 - a further £155 million has just been announced to develop specialist housing to meet needs of older people and adults with disabilities or mental health issues
a £42 million fund in 2015 to 2016 to help council tenants eligible for Right to Buy to purchase a home on the open market, including older people so as to help them buy a home which is more suitable for their needs, or closer to family or friends
the ‘FirstStop’ independent information and advice service for older people on their housing and care options to enable them to plan ahead - the government recently announced a further £1 million funding for FirstStop online and telephone advice service to continue in 2015 to 2016, and to expand its face-to-face service
introducing new optional building regulations to ensure more homes are built to high standards that meet the needs of older people, including requirements for ramps, minimum corridor and door widths, accessible switches and bathroom provision