The UK needs to take urgent action to prevent falling even further behind other countries in the innovative delivery of new models of social care – a need which has been clearly demonstrated by the coronavirus crisis according to major investors, charitable providers, Parliamentarians and older people.
During the crisis housing with care schemes such as retirement villages or extra care housing have demonstrated that they can combine the effective shielding of older people with the provision of flexible onsite care and support and a wide range of services to keep residents active and socially connected. Housing with care schemes fill the gap between domiciliary care and care homes, taking the pressure off and complementing these more established forms of support for older people.
However, only approx. 0.6% of older people live in housing with care developments in the UK, while this figure stands at 5% or more in countries such as New Zealand, the US or Australia.
Prior to the pandemic, the housing-with-care sector was set to deliver 125,000 additional housing units by 2030, equating to infrastructure investment of £40bn. As a result of increased uncertainty in the UK economy and housing market after the crisis, there is now the risk of delivery of units to be £6bn lower by 2025.
To ensure that growth does not stall, the sector has developed a Housing with care Growth Action Plan (HGAP) including a series of immediate actions the Government can take to back the sector and secure its future growth. This would capitalise on the interest of investors, who are twice as likely to increase investment in housing with care as in social care more generally, according to new research by real estate firm CBRE.
The housing with care sector is calling on the Government to adopt a series of immediately actionable, low or no cost measures including:
- Boosting consumer confidence by implementing announced – but not yet enacted – reforms to create clarity on fee structures and consumer protection.
- Enabling a flexible approach to tenure models to provide greater choice to customers
- Reducing planning uncertainty by clarifying the status of housing with care in the planning system.
The measures are being backed by major charitable providers, investors, a cross-party group of MPs (who have tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion on the issue) and residents themselves.
A new survey of investors by CBRE shows that 95% would be more likely to invest if there were more clarity around housing with care in the planning system, while well over half would be more likely to invest if there were more clarity on regulation and fee structures.
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