By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter
London is not doing enough to meet the housing needs of older people, a new report from a leading think-tank has found.
The report from Centre for London reveals that targets for the number of specialist homes for older people, such as retirement communities, are not being met in London, with only half the required number being developed.
It suggests that “too many (older people) are unable to access the housing they need”, and that the problem is likely to continue with London’s over 65 population set to increase by 29 per cent in the next 10 years.
Claire Harding, research director at Centre for London, said: “Older people make a vital contribution to our city and their wants and needs are diverse.
“All Londoners deserve to have a genuine choice about where and how to live as they age but we can’t offer choice if there aren’t enough homes for older people to start with.
“It’s vital that policy makers take this need seriously and focus both on providing enough homes and making sure people understand the options available to them as they age.”
The cost of land in London means that developers are far more likely to build more profitable homes such as those for students and professionals.
The issue is more serious in inner London where only 25 per cent of required new homes are being built, with some local authorities seeing a drop in the number of homes available as existing housing for older people is converted for other purposes.
The report from Centre for London recommends that City Hall introduces specialist housing targets for older people similar to affordable housing targets, in addition to providing information to older Londoners about what housing options are available.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor welcomes this research and is committed to helping older Londoners live securely and comfortably in the capital.
“The report rightly points out that accessible housing is a vital consideration.
This is reflected in the Mayor’s new London Plan requirements for housing, that includes step-free access to the entrance and a toilet at entrance level, ensuring that non-specialist housing is suitable for older people.
At least 10 percent of new-build dwellings are expected to be wheelchair accessible or adaptable.
“The Mayor’s Accessible and Specialist Older Persons housing locator provides information on the accessibility standard that new dwellings comply with in London.
The tool helps to ensure that older and disabled Londoners are aware of the new homes being developed so that they can make better-informed decisions about their housing options.”
However, GLA Conservative housing spokesperson Andrew Boff has hit out at Sadiq Khan for “narrow-mindedness on housing” and has called on the mayor to rethink housing policies in light of today’s report.
Mr Boff said: “No one should be forced out of London to find appropriate housing, but the Mayor’s housing policies are giving many older Londoners little choice but to leave.
“Sadiq Khan must listen to this report’s findings and review his housing policies to meet older Londoners’ needs.
“Too often, older Londoners are stuck in over-sized housing while young Londoners are trapped in small homes with no space to grow their families.
“By ensuring there is sufficient housing for older Londoners, the Mayor can free-up family-sized homes for young families who are also being forced out of our city.”
Research carried out by City Hall in 2017 found that the majority of older people in London preferred to remain in non-specialist housing, with only 15 per cent expressing an interest in moving to specialist housing.
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