This follows on from the previous blog on my market overview of retirement housing.
The current Government only has housing for new starters on the housing ladder in it’s sights. They see retirement housing as a luxury only to be made available to those who can afford to buy. What’s more this may well become a self-fulfilling prophesy if left to the private sector housing developers.
From a narrow and historical perspective the Government may be right. In the past publicly funded social housing for older people required huge capital grants, which remain tied up in those houses to this day. In addition, the majority of the tenants are dependant on housing benefit to pay some or all of the rent and service charges.
The days of large capital grants have long disappeared, along with any significant supply of new social housing. More recently the treasury has turned it’s cost cutting eye to reducing the level of housing benefit. These two austerity measures have all but eliminated the financial viability of new retirement housing schemes for social rent.
This one-eyed view ignores the social and health benefits of retirement housing. Furthermore, there are proven savings to health and social care.
You have to have an holistic approach and wide horizons to find a way ahead for social housing for older people. It needs to make real and transparent the savings to the NHS and to Social Services, as well as selling itself to older people themselves as a positive improvement in lifestyle.
Lets hope the Housing Association movement can rise to this new challenge.