Lord Best reveals the hidden housing crisis
In an interview with the Elder Magazine, the cross-bench peer opened up on how the lack of focus on elderly housing could cost the UK billions if not addressed.
It comes as social care policy has become a key policy battleground in the race for Number 10.
While all three parties have put forward differing visions on how to deal with the crisis in care, none have included a firm commitment to housing specifically designed around the needs of the elderly.
According to housing charity Shelter, there are currently over two million older people living in non-decent properties.
And, with the ageing population, the Local Government Association forecast the number of over 65s whose day-to-day activities are significantly limited will reach three million by 2025, a rise of almost 30%. Lord Best said: ‘This is a crisis that is building slowly and it’s not until people actually have nowhere to go, that a [housing] crisis becomes very open and real.
‘The appetite to deal with this issue just isn’t really there and I don’t detect any of the parties feeling any great sense of urgency to create homes for people over pension age. We always seem to wait until there’s a crisis, and then try to fix it. That’s not the way to do things. I’d like to see the private and social sectors working together to create 30,000 homes a year that are tailor-made for older people.’
Quality housing, specifically built for the needs of the elderly, is set to become vital in the UK’s fight to look after the elderly. It’s widely acknowledged that social care increasingly will have to be delivered in the community, as the care home sector faces a struggle for survival. In 2017, the latest figures, care home insolvencies soared by 83%.
Due to a lack of investment, 72% of care homes are between 20-30 years old. Other solutions, such as live-in care are able to respond to the increasing demand. But for these services to deliver where the care home has failed, appropriate housing needs to be built. Pete Dowds, CEO of Elder, who conducted the interview said: ‘We hear a lot about the need to more closely align health and social care policy. But the same needs to happen with social care and housing policy.
‘As the care home sector increasingly struggles, the need to have suitable housing for the elderly is only going to become more acute. More care is going to be delivered on our homes. If we fail to build the right housing now, the cost for adaptations is going to be significantly higher in the future. A long-term approach will bring save money and make the lives of families better.’