Why do Retirement Communities matter?

McCarthy Stone works with policy makers across the UK to highlight the important role retirement communities play in society and how they can be encouraged. Today just c.7,500 new retirement properties are built each year, but demand is for 30,000. And with the number of older people set to grow from 12 million today to 17 million in 20 years’ time, they are going to become increasingly important.

Here we outline the benefits of retirement communities and our policy asks of Government.

What can be done?

There are four solutions to address the national shortage of retirement communities:

  1. Reform local and national planning policy and make 10% of future housing supply specifically for older people. This would help ensure that the supply of older people's housing meets demand across the whole country.
  2. Have a much more ambitious role for the Government’s housing delivery agency – Homes England – and make 10% of its housing delivery specifically for older people’s housing, along with a reformed Older Person’s Shared Ownership (OPSO) Scheme. This would ensure that there is a larger amount of retirement housing being built, and that it is more accessible and affordable to those who need it.
  3. Exempt older people moving into a retirement community from paying stamp duty, given the socio-economic benefits of this form of housing. This would encourage more people to right-size, helping them to free up larger properties to families and first time buyers without them incurring a large tax bill.
  4. Create greater clarity over the future commercial model for charging for services within retirement communities with greater consumer protection and regulation, potentially through a new tenure for retirement communities that becomes a viable alternative to leasehold. Linked to this, there needs to be clearer understanding of the different types of retirement communities by having an agreed set of terms that is understood by the public. This would provide clarity so that it can be easier for developers to plan their building of retirement communities and offer a long term solution to those living in retirement housing.

Most of these policy changes do not require any Government or taxpayer funding, they are simply adjustments to policies and delivery systems to help retirement community operators play their part in delivering the new housing we need and provide the socio-economic benefits that come uniquely from this type of housing.