The Government reaffirmed its commitment to home ownership in 2016. We’ve seen renewed promises of affordable homes, more initiatives to help first time buyers save and a booming buy-to-let market.
This year has also experienced its fair share of volatility following the vote to leave the EU, but also opportunity in the form of Philip Hammond’s announcement in the Autumn Statement that investment was needed in all forms of housing. For too long, there has been a distorted focus on first-time buyers, and it is a relief to see this view start to change because the demand for quality retirement housing is only growing.
However, there is still a gaping hole when it comes to the older generation: a staggering lack of measures to address care. The NHS and care system is struggling at the lack of appropriate housing for those who don’t need to be in hospital and this is putting a huge strain on available beds.
The fact that there are now plans to increase council tax to bail out social care services for the elderly is itself evidence of how far the situation has been allowed to spiral. Further pressure will come as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU. For a sector so dependent on an EU migrant workforce, it’s hard to underestimate the impact these workers being forced to leave could have.
So while there is movement in the right direction, far more has to be done to combat both the care crisis, and lack of aspirational retirement properties. We need to incentivise people to downsize, live in their own homes and maintain their independence, but with the knowledge that flexible care is there as and when they need it.
Over 65s are the fastest growing proportion of the population and by 2039 there will be more than a million people aged over 90 in UK. If we continue to talk about it, but take no further action, we can only expect the pressure to worsen.
It is absolutely vital that as we enter 2017, we maintain momentum. The Chancellor has made the first move by broadening the housing spotlight, and we need to ensure this commitment is kept.