Press Releases

19 Jun 2023

Chronic Undersupply Of UK Seniors Housing Caters For Less Than 6% Of Over-65s

  • Cushman & Wakefield & British Property Federation warn just 603,000 suitable homes exist for 12.9 million over 65s in the UK
  • This demographic is set to grow by 31% by 2040 due to the UK’s ageing population
  • Sector report sets out recommendations for the newly established Older People’s Housing Taskforce, including an annual new homes target of 50,000 units
  • Increasing delivery will relieve pressure on NHS and social care sector, and release mainstream housing back into the wider market

 

Seniors’ housing is in critically short supply in the UK, with enough units to cater to only 5.6% of the over-65 population, according to a joint report by real estate service firm Cushman & Wakefield and the British Property Federation (BPF).

The report highlights an urgent need to rapidly increase delivery rates and calls for a seniors’ housebuilding target of 50,000 new units a year. Failure to tackle the shortfall to date has placed additional strain on the NHS and social care services, as well as blocking the release of mainstream housing into the wider market.

In a previous report authored in 2020, the two organisations called for Government to establish a Housing for Older People Taskforce. Since then, the Older People’s Housing Taskforce has been created and formally kicked off in April 2023. Along with the housebuilding target, the new report sets out key recommendations for the taskforce, including a national strategy for housing the UK’s ageing population and planning reform to allocate a proportion of new housing to seniors housing.

A deepening issue

The UK’s ageing population is set to increase by 31% from 12.9 million to 16.9 million by 2040. Currently, there are only 602,633 homes to service the 12.9 million over 65s. Cushman & Wakefield’s calculations estimate that 721,338 people live in the available seniors housing, representing a mere 5.6% of the 12.9million over-65 population. In addition, the majority (87%) of the 602,633 homes were also built pre-2010, with potential quality and energy efficiency issues to overcome.

Yet in 2022, total seniors housing delivery was just 5% higher than the 10-year average. The severity of the issue this is creating is highlighted by three scenarios modelled on different housebuilding rates. Even the most ambitious scenario, which would see 50,000 homes a year delivered by 2040, would still only cater for 11% of the over-65s population

Still, by delivering on this annual target by 2040, 628,000 standard homes would be released back into the housing market

The key asks

The report provides a 12-month action plan for the Government Taskforce to consider, including measures such as:

  • A new, dedicated use class for seniors housing – CR2. Currently, there are only two classifications within the system, C2 and C3 with seniors housing falling between the two and making it difficult to progress sites.
  • Support for Local Authorities in updating local plans, ensuring the same approach to identifying housing and social care needs is used across the board.
  • Encourage house builders to incorporate seniors housing alongside the ‘traditional’ private sale model. Allocating seniors housing in all local plans will encourage this.
  • Housing care assessments carried out by local authorities should involve both social care and housing policy, aligning the two to deliver homes that are best suited to the local population.

 

Millie Todd, report author and Head of Living Research at Cushman & Wakefield, said: Addressing the undersupply of seniors housing is essential if older people are to live happier, healthier and longer lives. If more older people are able to live in age appropriate homes which offer the right level of care, some of the pressure the NHS and social care system faces will be relieved. Delivering more seniors housing will also improve affordability and accessibility lower down the housing market ladder, freeing up family homes for younger generations.

“And while there isn’t a lack of investor appetite in the seniors housing sector – £6.5bn in capital waiting to be deployed – there are many barriers to delivery, which our joint report seeks to address, with proposed solutions for the Taskforce to consider.”

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Foundation, commented: “Housing an ageing population is a huge and growing challenge – by 2040 people over the age of 65 will make up a quarter of the total UK population. One of the biggest barriers to delivering the homes we urgently need is the planning system, which fails to recognise seniors housing as a specific use class. We need to move towards a system where later living housing forms a percentage of new housing schemes, helping to deliver the 50,000 dedicated homes needed each year to meet demand from over-65s. The recent decision to remove housing targets will further constrain delivery at a time when local authorities need to clearly set out allocations for senior housing that reflect local demand.”

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