Rural Housing for Older People report launched

30/04/2018
Hastoe contribute to a new Parliamentary report on housing for older people in rural areas.

 

Government policies are overlooking the housing needs of older people in rural areas, according to a new report from an All-Party Parliamentary Group.

Published after a 9-month Inquiry organised by the APPG on Housing & Care for Older People, the report warns that growing numbers of older people in rural areas will face a ‘huge challenge to their independence and well-being’ as their family homes become increasingly unsuitable.

The gap between the average age in rural and urban areas is widening. In 20 years, nearly half of rural households will be headed by someone aged over 65.

The report states policy makers must recognise the growing housing needs of older people living in the countryside. It recommends that Local Planning Authorities ensure provision of new homes for older people, noting the value of both the building of small village developments – “perhaps six bungalows on an unused scrap of land” – or larger scale retirement schemes in towns close by.

The Chair of the Inquiry, Lord Best, said: “For all the advantages of living in the countryside, life can be pretty miserable if your home is no longer right for you: if you can no longer manage the steps and stairs, if maintaining the property is costing too much, if keeping warm is a trial and your energy bills a nightmare, if you can no longer tend the once-beautiful garden.” And in relation to the need for care, he went on “Indeed, if you need some support – and some company – but if these are not to hand, then country living can be tough.”

The report comments that the major housebuilders are unlikely to meet these needs since they concentrate on larger sites and family homes where young purchasers can obtain “Help to Buy” government support. So, to build the new, accessible and affordable homes tailor-made for older people, the report advocates an emphasis on housing associations, community-led initiatives, SME builders and local landowners.

Sue Chalkley, Chief Executive of Hastoe, England’s largest rural housing association, said:

“We have a ticking demographic time bomb in Rural England as our population ages rapidly. Failing to act now will mean more loneliness, isolation and expensive trips to hospital as rural areas will be left with a housing stock completely unsuitable for its population.”

“Policymakers must wake up to this challenge and ensure we have more houses suitable for the rural elderly and, crucially, the right sort of houses too. The recommendations in this report are an excellent place to start.”

You can read the report at this link.

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