MPs urge more housing help for elderly

Elderly woman

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More emphasis should be put on the links between homes and health, the committee said

Older people should be given more help with housing to help them stay healthy and reduce the need for residential care, a committee of MPs has said.

They called for the government to develop a new national strategy to deal with older people’s housing needs.

Proposals include funding for a handyman service, “age proofing” all new build homes and a national helpline to offer advice on housing options.

The government said it had an ambitious plan to boost housing for everyone.

According to the Commons communities and local government committee report, 18% of the population was 65 or older in 2016 and the number of people aged 85 and over was set to double to nearly 5% over the next 25 years.

It recommended that the government’s National Planning Policy Framework for England be amended to encourage more housing to be built specifically for older people. And it said there should be a new national strategy for older people – linked to the upcoming green paper on social care.

‘Live independently’

All new homes should be “age proofed” so they are suitable for older people’s needs, a telephone advice service should be set up and extra funding should be made available for home improvement agencies to operate handyman schemes for older people, MPs said.

But they were not convinced of the need to have a stamp duty exemption for older people.

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New homes should be “age proofed”, the committee said

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

“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.

“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.”

A government spokesman said: “We’ve set out an ambitious programme of reforms to boost housing supply for everyone – including elderly people.

“We’re also committed to helping older and disabled people live independently and safely and we’re providing funding to help local housing authorities make a range of adaptations to a disabled or elderly person’s home, such as installing ramps and stair lifts.”

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