Blog written by Joe Oldman, Housing and Transport Policy Manager, Age UK.
Reaction to the new social housing green paper has been lukewarm. This is because it seems to dash hopes for a significant increase in the supply of new council and housing association homes for people on low incomes. Despite the recent Government announcement of an additional £2bn over 10 years for social housing, the green paper fails to suggest lifting restrictions on local authority borrowing which would make a real difference to increasing the supply of social housing.
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.
After such a wet winter, a bit of sun may sound like no bad thing, but people often underestimate the effect of high temperatures on older people: the 2003 heatwave led to an alarming 22 per cent increase in mortality among people 75+ in England and Wales. So I was very pleased to be invited to a roundtable held by the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, as part of their Inquiry into Heatwaves: Adapting to Climate Change.
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?”
There is still uncertainty about the future of sheltered housing in the social rented sector. This is important because sheltered schemes offer supportive communal housing to older people on low incomes who cannot afford retirement housing in the private sector The Government is currently reviewing its policy to place a cap on housing benefit payments for supported housing, as well as a cap on rents. This could potentially reduce the income of housing associations and their capacity to offer housing support. The ongoing financial uncertainty is also undermining the development of new sheltered schemes. Continue reading “Guest blog: ‘We must protect sheltered housing’”