Scotland ‘not building enough retirement housing’

mccarthy_stone_logoA housebuilder is calling on political parties to increase the provision of retirement housing to meet the needs of Scotland’s ageing population.

McCarthy & Stone said encouraging specialised retirement housing for homeowners would result in a triple win for government by improving the lives of older people; removing pressure on health and social care budgets as well as stimulating the local housing market and economy.

According to the housebuilder, people aged 65 and over are estimated to increase by 59 per cent over the next two decades from 0.93 million to 1.47 million, which will be 1 in 4 of all Scots. Those living beyond 75 will almost double to 0.8 million by 2039.

But there are only around 36,000 sheltered and very sheltered houses with just 10 per cent of these provided by the private sector.

And Scottish Government statistics show public sector sheltered homes are declining from around 35,000 in the late 1990s to just 31,200 in 2013.

The majority, 76 per cent, of older people are homeowners and wish to remain so for as long as possible. Research shows that one in four over 60s would be interested in buying a retirement property, but there is an under supply in availability.

As a result, most older people are trapped in oversized properties which are difficult to heat, expensive to maintain and often unsuitable for their care needs.

McCarthy & Stone argues that building more retirement accommodation, particularly for homeowners, would add to the housing options available for older people and release larger homes onto the housing market for families and other house buyers.

Importantly, it would help relieve pressure on health and social care spending, which is expected to rise to nearly £8 billion by 2031 – around 10 per cent of the total Scottish Government budget.

The firm is calling on political parties to include the following in their manifestos

  1. Require local authorities to develop policies to support retirement housing across all types and tenures in local plans and carry out more thorough analysis of older people’s housing in Housing Needs Demand Assessments

  2. Strengthen Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) to place greater emphasis on meeting the needs of our ageing population and encourage private sector development to address the serious shortfall in retirement housing
  3. Add greater clarity in the SPP regarding retirement housing’s exemption from affordable housing contributions
  4. Require local authorities to identify suitable sites for retirement accommodation within local plans
  5. Request local authorities to monitor the number of private, as well as public, sheltered and very sheltered homes being delivered in their local area via quarterly and annual returns.

  6. The housebuilder said: “At a time of unprecedented demographic change, it is vital that new housing supply recognises the needs of our ageing population.

    “We support the delivery of new well-located, high-quality and well-managed specialist retirement housing across different types and tenures to help address a growing demand for this form of accommodation.”

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