Scottish government urged to act on housing with care provision

Launch of the report at the Scottish Parliament

More than 4,000 housing with care properties will be required to be built each year in Scotland over the next 14 years for it to come in line with other nations such as New Zealand, Australia and the US.

A housing with care taskforce said there were 3,782 units and 5,174 bedrooms in the country. Assuming one person needed one bedroom and demand was 5% – as those of the other nations – then the supply gap stood at 48,514 units.

This means 4,251 properties are required to be built per annum until 2036 if it aimed to come in line with those other nations. This equated to 28 villages per annum assuming an average development was 150 units.

Just 0.48% of over-65s can live in a housing with care scheme in Scotland. Its over-65 population is set to rise by 28% by 2036 and reach almost 1.4 million.

The report by ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) and Sovereign Property Partnership, who both brought the taskforce together, said the supply gap was getting worse, despite increasing need.

It urged the Scottish government during a report launch to act on three key areas: law, planning and social care integration.

It called for regulation to ensure developments are clearly defined and offer consumers a fair and transparent deal when moving in; a new planning use class; targets for housing with care in the planning system; and for operators to be able to compete with housebuilders on land values.

‘Scotland’s housing with care supply gap is stark, and is only set to get worse unless we see swift government action to back the sector,’ said Gareth Lyon, director of policy and communications at ARCO.

‘Improving the health and wellbeing of our ageing population, and tackling the loneliness crisis, are among the great challenges of our time, and housing with care has got to a critical role to play in meeting these.’

Andrew Fyfe

Andrew Fyfe, Scottish Housing-with-Care Taskforce chair, said: ‘It is amazing and worrying in equal measure to think that we currently provide only 3,800 homes in housing with care for an older population that is set to grow to 1.4 million by 2036.

‘Tackling this supply gap has got to become a key priority for the Scottish government, so that delayed hospital discharges are reduced, so that loneliness and isolation is tackled, ultimately, so that older people can live healthier, happier lives.’

LifeCare Residences has over 30 years’ experience operating communities in New Zealand, and more recently in Australia and England.

In New Zealnd just under 50,000 people live in housing with care communities and this is expected to rise to nearly 70,000 by 2028. Communities now provide 50% of care home facilities in the country.

Paul Harries, LifeCare Residences executive chair, said: ‘We urge the Scottish government to look at the interaction between housing and health and social care, and support the relatively minor changes to the legal and planning framework that are needed to help the provision of housing with care communities in Scotland to grow.’

Paul McLennan MSP, who sits on the local government, housing and planning committee, said across the country different housing options were starting to be developed that enabled some older people to ‘live vibrant independent lives’ because the property was better suited to their needs.

‘There is a prime opportunity to consider the market around housing suitable for older people and I’m delighted to host this event that will contribute greatly to the serious discussion we need to have,’ he added.