Editor: Select committee reports, parliamentary questions, ministerial questions and a plethora of academic research – the case for the expansion of the housing with care sector has never been clearer.
Officials in various departments have listened, gained insight and built expertise, and may even have visited retirement communities to see the transformative effect supportive environments have on residents’ wellbeing and independence. Yet in policy terms, the sector has not received any support from government.
The key reason for this is an absence of ownership. The Department of Health and Social Care would love to see more people living in housing that reduces hospital stays, but has few, if any, levers to pull to make this happen.
The Ministry of Housing is keen to free up homes for younger generations but must balance this with demands for starter homes and affordable housing.
And the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is unlikely to have registered that the UK is unusual in lacking sector-specific legislation for retirement communities providing care and support.
This needs to change, and the only way this can happen is to convene a cross-governmental task force to bring together the health and social care focus of DHSC, the planning and tenure expertise of MHCLG, the regulatory powers of BEIS, the fiscal oversight of the treasury, as well as other departments with key roles to play.
The time for change is now. We look to the government to provide the leadership and focus the UK’s ageing population deserves.
Michael Voges, executive director, Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO)