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Housing Minister confirms that UK needs a better housing policy for older people

The UK needs a better housing policy to deal with the needs of older people whether they want to stay in their own home or rent, the Housing Minister has confirmed.

Giving evidence recently to the Communities and Local Government Committee in Parliament, Alok Sharma admitted that the whole issue about housing for older people is very much an emerging area.

He said there is currently no ‘joined up’ policy and there is a need for better planning for home and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is currently working on guidance for local authorities for housing for older people.

‘This is not really a question of one size fitting all. People will have different needs. Some will want to stay in mainstream housing. 96% of older people are currently in mainstream housing, others may want to look at sheltered housing,’ Sharma told the committee.

He acknowledged that the Government need to make sure that there are more homes built that older people would want to move into as well as making sure that the homes that are currently in place are effectively fit for purpose.

He pointed out that there is a disabled facilities grant that is available to people who are eligible to make adaptations to their homes and gardens to allow them to live longer in their own properties. It can be used, for example, to update heating systems and improve insulation and is available to tenants as well as home owners.

Sharma also explained that officials are trying to widen the scope of planning guidance on home building for older people and getting charities and local authorities to talk to each other and to get their thoughts on how the guidance could actually be structured.

The committee heard that at a time when more older people are renting homes, then any policy on housing for the older generation needs to take the private rented sector into account. Figures suggest that 200,000 have joined the private rented sector in the last four years alone.

Sharma confirmed that landlords need to be included in the policy going forward. ‘If there are adaptations to be carried out, it is about making sure they are carried out. I would just say that I would expect that landlords would actually find it quite a positive thing if adaptations were put in to a building, because it is entirely likely that might enhance their ability to rent the property further to other people with similar needs,’ he said.

Source: Property Wire