Younger people will also benefit from better, more accessible housing, says report

Ben Derbyshire

Source: Tom Campbell

Concern: RIBA president Ben Derbyshire

A lack of homes that meet the needs of the country’s ageing population is resulting in a “hidden housing crisis” across England, according to the RIBA.

In a new report, the RIBA said that with a quarter of the country’s population projected to be over 60 in five years’ time the failure to plan for the growing number of people living longer was putting enormous strain on public finances, due to what it called “the health and social care costs of inappropriate housing”.

Such housing would cost the NHS £1bn a year by 2041, while demand for age-friendly homes currently outstripped supply, according to the report, which features data from research outfits Centre for Towns and ComRes.

The way housing is planned, designed and built must change to tackle the situation, the RIBA said.

elderly living

Availability of good housing options for older people is a growing problem, says the RIBA

And the institute’s president Ben Derbyshire said prioritising age-friendly design would not just benefit the over-55s but was central to tackling the broader housing crisis.

“Local authorities have largely ignored this need and opportunity, focusing instead on basic, short-term solutions. This is England’s hidden housing crisis. We must encourage more innovation and plan properly for the future,” he said.

“Older people should not feel that they need to move if they don’t want to, but they should have options available to them. We urge policy makers and local authorities to modernise their thinking on housing and consider the differing needs in this country.”

Among the RIBA’s recommendations was for local authorities to ensure that enough specialised housing for older people was allocated through local plans, including specific sites for age-friendly housing across all tenures, and for a requirement that all new-build housing be accessible and adaptable.

Better information and support ought to be available for people who wanted to move home, “including signposting accessible housing and piloting fiscal incentives to support older people to move home”.

But housing for older people did not necessarily mean specialised retirement housing, the RIBA said.

“Adopting improved standards for new homes would benefit everyone whilst ensuring that what we are building does not exclude or impede the quality of life of older people,” it added.