Policy Summary: Government responds to select committee on housing for older people

POLICY: Government response to the second report of session 2017-19 of the housing, communities and local government select committee inquiry into housing for older people

Older people’s housing: under scrutiny
Older people’s housing: under scrutiny

ISSUED BY: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

ISSUE DATE: 27 September 2018

BACKGROUND:  Following its inquiry examining whether housing for older people is sufficiently available and suitable for their needs, the House of Commons select committee in February published a report. It made 40 recommendations, including proposals relating to forthcoming guidance on older people’s housing that the government is required to publish under the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017. The government has now responded.

KEY POINTS: On the forthcoming guidance, the committee recommended that councils publish a strategy explaining how they meet the housing needs of older people. It also suggested that local plans should, based on an assessment of local need, identify a target proportion of new housing to be developed for older people. Plans should identify a range of different types of housing, including accessible homes, extra care housing and smaller mainstream homes, to be built. The number of homes developed against this target should be published each year, it said.

The committee recommended that planning departments should work more closely with social care, health and housing teams, and assess savings to health and social care budgets that could be made from additional specialist housing "and consider this in the context of negotiations over planning charges".

The government said that it welcomed the suggestions, opening the way for their inclusion in the new guidance. It said: "We have already undertaken positive stakeholder engagement with local authorities, charities and housebuilder representatives to inform the new guidance, which will be published in the autumn 2018." It added that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) already encourages planning authorities and public health organisations to use evidence from joint strategic needs assessments, prepared by councils’ health and wellbeing boards, when calculating housing need.

The department also said it has strengthened national planning policy to reflect the importance of housing for older people. The revised NPPF, published in July, states that plan-making authorities are expected to have clear policies for addressing the housing needs of older and disabled people, and introduced a wider definition of older people, it said.

However, the government rejected a committee recommendation to create a subcategory of the C2 planning use class for specialist housing for older people. The committee had said that developer contributions required from development in this new subcategory could be reduced to boost delivery. However, the government response said: "We do not think that a change to the use classes order (UCO) would make a difference as charging authorities are not restricted to setting the rates of developer contributions in line with the UCO."

The document can be found here. 

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