McCarthy Stone welcomes new report from Centre for Policy Studies and the Rt Hon Damian Green MP on ‘Fixing the Care Crisis’
McCarthy Stone, the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, has welcomed today’s report on ’Fixing the Care Crisis’ by the Centre for Policy Studies and the Rt Hon Damian Green MP.
The report finds that specially-designed retirement housing plays a key role in helping reduce peoples’ reliance on social care as they get older but that the current system ‘actively discourages’ local councils from investing in social care and housing for older people. The Government at both national and local levels therefore needs to increase the supply and mix of housing available to those in later life.
Among its proposed solutions are measures to require every council to have a target of housing for older people in their local area, with a strategy on how this will be achieved, and the creation of a new planning use class to help meet this target and ensure this form of housing pays the correct level of planning contributions.
The report follows hot on the heels of the House of Lords’ Select Committee report on tackling Intergenerational Fairness and Provision, published on 25 April, which also recommended a new planning use class be created for this form of housing.
Gary Day, Group Land & Planning Director for McCarthy Stone said:
“Retirement communities bring with them a wealth of personal and societal benefits and we have led calls for more of this form of housing to be built to meet the needs of our ageing population. Sadly existing planning policy is largely silent on this area and this has limited the number of specialist properties being built, which in turn has added to the social care crisis. We are therefore delighted to see more groups and politicians now recognise both the benefits and challenges of our sector, and we look forward to working with Government to take these recommendations forward.”
These findings follow a 2018 report by the House of Commons Select Committee for Housing, Communities and Local Government which also recommended a new use class and lower planning contributions for retirement housing to increase supply1.
Key findings and extracts from ‘Fixing the Care Crisis’
The UK has a very low level of specialist retirement housing being built. Current estimates are that up to 30,000 new units of specialist retirement housing should be built each year, but only around 7,000 units are being delivered.
Each year that people spend in retirement housing saves the Government £3,500. Another study has found that on average, costs for those with entry-level social care needs were 17.8% lower in specialist accommodation vs general needs, saving £1,222 per person per year. For those with more intensive social care needs. the savings were greater, with a 26% cost difference between specialist and general accommodation, saving £4,566 per person per year.
Creating more specialist retirement housing, which people could downsize to at the appropriate moment in life, would save the individual, the NHS and the local authority money. We therefore need to do all we can to encourage downsizing into retirement homes as the last piece of the social care puzzle.
There is clear evidence that land is difficult to obtain for older people’s housing. Even where the council was ambivalent or supportive of retirement housing, there were issues that would make it more difficult, not least the fact that older person housing has a higher level of communal areas and other costs which make it more expensive to build than other types of flat (all other things being equal), and which often mean long and difficult wrangles in planning, which can sink projects.
Those who build such retirement developments and the Select Committee argue strongly for a complete exemption for Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy costs, which are usually charged in return for planning permission.
At the very least, creating a new use class would allow for a more realistic and simpler system that charges a lower rate for retirement housing than for other housing (just as already happens with student housing in many areas, where it is understood this has a different cost base from typical homes, and this makes it much quicker and easier to get sign-off.
McCarthy Stone is the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, with a significant market share. The Group buys land and then builds, sells and manages high-quality retirement developments. It has built and sold more than 56,000 properties across more than 1,200 retirement developments since 1977 and is renowned for its focus on the needs of those in later life.
There is growing demand for retirement communities. There are currently 11.8 million people aged 65 or over, rising to 17.3m by 2037, representing a 47% increase1. For those aged 85 or over, the increase will be larger, from 1.6m to 3.0m, representing an 87.5% increase. One in four over 60s are interested in retirement living2, yet only c.162,000 units of specialist retirement housing for homeowners have been built3.
McCarthy Stone has two main product ranges – Retirement Living and Retirement Living PLUS – which provide mainly one and two-bedroom apartments across the country with varying levels of support and care for older homeowners. Retirement Living developments provide independence in private apartments designed specifically for the over-60s, as well as facilities such as shared lounges and guest suites that support companionship. Retirement Living Plus developments, which are designed specifically for the over-70s, offer all of this plus more on-site facilities such as restaurants, well-being suites and function rooms. Importantly, they also provide flexible care and support packages to assist those needing additional help.
All developments built since 2010 are managed by the company’s in-house management services team, providing peace of mind that it will look after customers and their properties over the long term. This is a key part of how McCarthy Stone seeks to enrich its customers’ lives. This commitment to quality and customer service continues to be recognised by homeowners. In March 2019, the Group received the full Five Star rating for customer satisfaction from the Home Builders Federation for the fourteenth consecutive year – making it the only UK housebuilder, of any size or type, to achieve this accolade.
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