“Make all new homes age proof,” say MPs

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MPs on the Communities and Local Government select committee have called for a national strategy to tackle the housing problems facing older people and urged developers to ensure that all new homes are built to be “age proof”.

The cross-party group of MPs has today published a report asking ministers to put greater funding into providing information and advice to older people to help them to stay in their homes and live independently for as long as possible.

The report recommends that councils should be required to set a target proportion of new housing that should be developed for those in retirement and that each local authority should have to publish a strategy for how they will meet these goals.

The group has also called for extra funding for Home Improvement Agencies to be able to offer access to tradespeople for older residents needing support with odd jobs around the home.

MPs also want to see a package of help to enable older people to overcome the barriers to moving home, including an accreditation scheme for companies that can assist in this process and guidance from lenders on mortgage criteria.

They say that older people should be involved at an early stage in the design process for sheltered housing and other types of retirement options.

Finally they argue that all new homes should be built in such a way that they are accessible and adaptable so that they are “age proofed” to meet the future needs of residents.

Committee chair Clive Betts says: “With an ageing population, it’s vital that the link between housing and health and social care is recognised.

“A new national strategy for older people, taking on board the recommendations of our report, should be linked to the Government’s forthcoming social care green paper.

“There is a huge variety of housing options for those in later life, so it’s important that older people are given help to make the right decisions about their future.”

He adds: “A properly funded telephone advice service, bringing together information on everything from repairs and heating to moving and care options, would help people to make the right choices and live comfortably whether in their present homes or by moving to different accommodation.

“The right kind of housing can help people stay healthy and support them to live independently.

“This can help reduce the need for home or residential care, bringing real benefits to the individual and also relieving pressure on the health service. The green paper must consider the range of housing for older people, from mainstream and accessible homes to supported and extra care housing, as well as access to adaptations and repairs.”

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