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Altair sponsorship feature

Coping with ageing

Recent research from the Smith Institute (1) shows there is a fundamental failure to grasp the potential impact on social housing of an increasingly ageing population

OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS the ageing social housing population will experience greater poverty, poorer health, a higher prevalence of physical and mental disability, greater social isolation and lower life expectancy, particularly those aged over 75 who are concentrated more in social housing.

The report concludes that, although this is a business critical issue for housing providers, the sector in general is largely focusing on responses which are short- term and symptomatic and has yet to devise long-term plans to meet the scale of the challenge. This underscores the need for a more strategic approach to re-shaping the offer to existing and future older residents) to plan for changing expectations and changing needs.

Short-term responses are understandable given continuing pressure on budgets. The Supporting People (SP) budget in Wales reduced by 7.4 per cent to £124.4 million, and in England there is no longer a ring-fenced programme. Funding for intensive housing benefit services is still available: housing associations are being encouraged by many local authorities to maximise this source of funding for intensive housing benefit services, which attracts full subsidy, while it is still available.

Examples include:

  • Frequent building checks ensuring building security and tenant health and safety
  • Controlling access and facilitating visits to property for visitors, professionals and contractors
  • Fire alarm/other alarm system testing and monitoring of fire safety/other equipment
  • Extra visiting relating to ongoing ASB, or unwanted guests
  • Monitoring potential illegal activities (such as drug dealing or prostitution)
  • Out-of-hours call outs and liaison with emergency services
  • Monitoring of hygiene and distribution of cleaning materials in shared housing
  • Knocks-on-doors to monitor individual tenant welfare issues

Providing the right type and level of service, managing further welfare reform and housing benefit changes, and mitigating risk will be continuing challenges.

Altair contacts: Judy Wayne, 029 2037 3768; [email protected] Jim Lashmar, 07968 616550, [email protected]

1. Are housing associations ready for an ageing population? Martin Wheatley, Smith Institute, January 2015 

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