Rural housing needs for elderly not being met, report says

Older and retired people are increasingly isolated in rural communities and are often living in homes that are unsuitable to their needs, according to a new report from MPs.

The report from the all-party parliamentary group for housing and care for older people says that almost 50% of households in the countryside will be comprised of people aged over 65 by 2039 and calls on housing, communities and local government minister Sajid Javid to restore local authorities’ ability to include affordable homes in every development, as well as encouraging councils to build more bungalows which better serve older people.

The report also said that councils should be able to withhold the right to buy ‘in areas where replacement development is highly constrained’ and also recommends that councils ensure provision of new homes for pensioners through small village developments with ‘six bungalows on an unused scrap of land’ or larger scale retirement schemes in nearby towns.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘This report rightly acknowledges the urgent need to supply more housing for older people and the necessary infrastructure, especially in rural areas. With half of rural households expected to be headed by an over 65 in just two decades, it has never been more essential that we have a national focus on providing homes that meet the needs of our parents, grandparents and all the older people in our communities, which is something the LGA has consistently called for.

‘Councils want to see a desperately-needed residential revolution in older people’s housing. However, they need to have the tools to build these appropriate homes, including the freedom to borrow to build new homes across the country, fully resourced planning teams so approvals can be given to appropriate homes as quickly as possible, and allowed to retain 100 per cent of receipts from Right to Buy sales so that homes sold can be replaced.

‘There is a clear link between housing, health and social care which means ensuring we have enough, appropriate housing for older people must be a serious consideration in the forthcoming social care green paper. It’s essential that housing for older people enables them to live independently at home for longer, by including adaptations which enable them to get around easily and support them at home.

‘If councils are given the right tools, we could trigger that residential revolution and deliver the homes our older residents need, but with an ageing population, the clock is ticking. As a country, we owe it to our older people to tackle this problem urgently – the time to act is now.’

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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