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‘Baby-boom’ pensioners set to double demand for specialist retirement housing, warns Assembly

28 November 2013

The Mayor should be pushing for more specially build retirement housing, says a new London Assembly report published today, which warns that the number of Londoners over 85 is set to double over the next twenty years.

Homes for Older Londoners’, by the Assembly’s Housing Committee argues that specially designed housing – combining self-contained homes with access to on-site support and care - improve independence and quality of life for residents, reduce costs to the NHS of avoidable accidents[2] and free up much needed family homes.

There are currently around 60,000 specialist housing spaces in the capital and experts predict a further 80,000 could be needed over the next thirty years as London’s post war ‘baby boom’ generation reaches retirement age[3].

The report calls for better planning to address the growing demand and highlights the benefits – both for residents and society in general – of specialist housing like the retirement communities common in Australia and the USA.

It also urges the Mayor to look at using alternative ownership models, such as co-operative housing, co-housing and other forms of mutual ownership as well as the potential use of GLA land for such communities.

Darren Johnson AM, Chair of the Housing Committee said:

“We talk a lot about the housing problems faced by young people, but we shouldn’t forget that the booming population of older people also struggle to find a home they can afford and that suits their needs.

“To live independently and with a good quality of life, residents need the right sort of housing with key services and facilities nearby. This can improve their health and wellbeing, reducing costs for the NHS and councils’ social care teams. As older people downsize, they will also free up large homes for younger families.

“The Mayor must act now to ensure that older people, their councils and developers can work together to build the kind of homes and communities that London needs.”

Retirement housing is split between privately owned and publicly-funded, with the majority of older people expected to opt for continued ownership. There is currently a clear disparity between inner and the outer London, with the report highlighting four outer boroughs[4] currently accounting for a third of privately owned retirement homes.

The Mayor’s current Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund ends in 2017/18 and the report calls on him to start work on boosting the supply of new affordable and market rate homes after 2018. In particular it recommends that new Health and Wellbeing Boards include local authority housing directors to ensure they have the right knowledge and expertise to help champion joint planning and commissioning. 

The report also calls on the Mayor to lobby government for changes to planning regulations to free developers of specialist housing from costs like the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106.




Notes for editors:

  1. Read the report: Homes for Older Londoners: Building healthy homes for a comfortable and independent retirement
  2. For example, the cost to the NHS of a heart attack brought on by a cold home is around £20,000. Older homes are also more likely to have trip and fall hazards which become more of a risk as people get older. The cost to the NHS of a fall resulting in a broken leg is more than £25,000.
  3. London’s population is expected to reach 9.6 million by 2031, of which 96,000 will be over 85, in increase of 123 per cent on current levels.
  4. Barnet, Bromley, Harrow and Redbridge
  5. Darren Johnson AM, Chair of the Housing Committee is available for interview – see contact details below.
  6. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Alastair Cowan in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4504/4283.  For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, on 020 7983 4100