Effects of an ageing population on housing associations in the UK

  • A think tank's new report has shown that the ageing population of the UK could mean that housing associations face an extra £1 billion bill by 2034.

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    It is estimated that there will be over 16 million people aged over 65 in the UK by 2034 - nearly 3 million will be over 85, 24dash reports.

    The Smith Institute's report, sponsored by Genesis Housing Association, predicts that housing associations with 30,000 homes will have 7,500 more tenants aged over 65 within the next 20 years. This will create extra revenue pressures of £12.5 million.

    However, many housing associations are not ready to meet the needs of an additional half a million tenants aged over 65.

    Although social housing providers do consider how their tenant population will change over time, it is difficult to maintain a long-term plan which takes into account the potential effects on future housing.  

    90% of the housing associations that took part in the study understood that they need greater preparation in order to deal with the ageing population. Also, 80% were worried about financial losses occurring when trying to meet the upcoming challenges of the next decade.

    The report suggests stronger links between the social housing sector and the NHS are needed to ensure the integration of housing services and health and social care services so the best support can be provided for older tenants in their homes.  

    Further difficulties that the social housing sector may face due to the ageing population include tenants' lower financial security, higher occurrences of disabilities and health conditions and greater social isolation. The Smith Institute has recommended that housing providers engage more with their current and future older tenants to satisfy their preferences.

    Director at the Smith Institute Paul Hackett stated, "This report is a wake-up call to everyone involved in providing affordable homes for older people. It is clear from the report's findings that housing associations and the healthcare sector need to do more and be better prepared, and that without extra funding we will not be able to house our ageing population adequately".

    Chief Executive at Genesis Neil Hadden stated, "While Genesis is delighted to support this timely and relevant report, which will help to shape the thinking of providers, stakeholders and Government on this critical issue, it does demonstrate that the sector has much to do to prepare for the reality of an ageing population.

    "It's positive that the vast majority of housing associations recognise the scale of the challenge, but this awareness isn't currently matched by preparedness across the board. The sector must keep pace with the changing needs and growing proportion of its older residents, who in many cases face greater health, economic and social challenges than the general population". 

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