For most people ‘commonhold’ is an unfamiliar concept. In Australia it’s called the strata system and in the US they use the term condominiums or condos. In the UK, commonhold is still an elusive idea despite legislation designed to promote it (Leasehold and Commonhold Reform Act 2002), which has spectacularly failed to deliver. Since it came into force, a paltry 20 commonhold properties have been created. At the same time there are estimated to be 5 to 6 million residential leasehold premises in England.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has just released its much anticipated Accessibility Action Plan (AAP), now open to public consultation. The Plan covers bus, trains, airports, taxis and driving, as well as scooters, cycling and walking, and is partly a response to a House of Lord select committee report on the Equality Act 2010. This found many types of transport fail to meet the basic needs of disabled people despite pre-existing regulations and guidance. Continue reading “Mind the gap: making transport more accessible for older and disabled people”
The future funding of supported housing was one of the key issues affecting older people that was put on hold during the General Election. The Government proposes to cap housing benefit (Local Housing Allowance) for sheltered and other types of supported accommodation – which could potentially harm vulnerable older people with a loss of services and the eventual closure of some schemes. Continue reading “What now for sheltered housing?”
The future funding of sheltered housing continues to be uncertain following the Government’s decision to defer a decision to restrict housing benefit payments for supported housing.
The failure to reach a long term financial settlement means that schemes could still eventually be forced to close and the development of new schemes jeopardised. Continue reading “Continued uncertainty for sheltered housing”
An important theme for active communities, from Age UK’s Agenda for Later Life 2015 report, is how integrated services can improve the lives of older people. Following this theme, the idea of ‘total transport’ aims to bring together central and local government transport budgets and improve the deployment of buses, hospital transport, school buses and a variety of community transport. It allows vehicles to be shared and coordinated more efficiently, following broader transport objectives. However it isn’t a replacement for adequately funded transport services.
This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights why everyone in later life should feel safe, comfortable and secure at home.
A decent and comfortable home environment is important to all of us, but it’s especially important as we age. Older people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the cold, damp and hazardous housing conditions. It’s estimated that poor housing costs the NHS £600m every year, with a total cost to society of up to £1.5bn. That’s why Age UK is calling for a comprehensive joined up programme to improve home conditions for older people and new affordable ‘lifetime’ homes built to higher accessibility and energy efficiency standards.
Helping people make adaptations
Many older people need help and advice to repair, adapt or modify their homes. Home improvement agencies and handy person services continue to play a key role in offering practical assistance and can identify the resources needed to pay for work. Yet in recent years these services have been cut back, despite widespread cross party agreement on the essential role they play. Continue reading “General Election Series: Safe at home”
In its national planning guidance the Government says:
‘The need to provide housing for older people is critical, given the projected increase in the number of households aged 65 and over accounts for over half of the new households’
Yet, their current review of housing standards has failed to seize the opportunity to age proof all new homes. The measures they are proposing could in fact end up restricting progress on accessible housing. This is terrible news because accessible, well designed houses and flats give all of us the security of knowing that if our mobility is reduced, our homes make it much easier to live independently – hopefully in a location of our choice.
Instead the Government has made improved access standards for new homes an option, to be determined by local authorities. This option, known as ‘category 2’ is based on the Lifetime Homes Standard – a set of 16 criteria which make homes easier and cheaper to adapt.
This optional approach, which requires evidence of need and viability, seems to imply that life time homes should primarily be applied to retirement housing. Most of the house building industry seems to regard retirement schemes as the most sensible response to the projected growth in the older population. The implication is that if your housing becomes inaccessible, due to poor design, it simply requires you to move into retirement housing or residential care. Continue reading “Government failure on accessible housing undermines independent living”