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Why housing matters for the future of an ageing population

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Seven facts that explain why housing will be critical for the ageing UK population.

The Foresight future of an ageing population project analysed the main challenges that result from the UK population becoming older. Housing will be a critical part of the government’s future response to ageing, and the following seven pieces of evidence from the project explain why.

1. An additional 1.42 million households in England are forecast to be headed by someone aged 85 or over by 2037.

Graph shows that a higher number of households will be headed by people in older age groups in 2037 compared to 2012.


2. Poor quality housing in the UK costs the NHS an estimated £2.5 billion per year through negative effects on health.

Damp, lack of insulation, poor heating, unsafe stairs, and low levels of both artificial and natural light can all affect mental and physical health. Housing becomes increasingly important to our health and wellbeing as we age and as homes are increasingly used as places of work and care.
Infographic shows that housing costs the NHS £1.4 to 2.5 billion, an amount comparable to the costs for physical inactivity; overweight and obesity; smoking; and alcohol intake.


3. Older workers are more likely to work from home.

Evidence suggests that home-working and other forms of flexible working help older people to remain in work and balance competing responsibilities such as care. This means that it is especially important for houses to be appropriate and supportive to older peoples’ needs.
Graph shows that 38.3% workers aged 65 and over use their home for work, compared to only 5.1% of workers aged 16 to 24.


4. There will be a 70% increase in demand for specialised housing by 2033.

This increase will likely be driven by a higher number of older people with acute or chronic disabilities.
Image states that the number of disabled older people is increasing. From 4.7million in 2002/3 to 5.1 million in 2011/12. This is an increase of 400,000.


5. Fewer specialised houses have been built in the last 20 years relative to the period from 1970 to 1990.

This means that increasing demand from older people for specialised housing is likely to go unmet.
The graphs shows that fewer specialised homes are built today than were built in the 70s and 80s.


6. Older peoples’ households are more likely to have two or more spare rooms.

And many older people would like to move to a new home in their later life.
The image shows that 58% of people over 60 were interested in moving house.


7. Smaller houses are frequently in more expensive areas so it is rarely cost-effective for older people to move to appropriately sized housing.

The image states: "the ability to move to a smaller house is at least partly dependent on the size and value of the house. Smaller houses are frequently in more expensive areas so rightsizing is rarely cost effective unless the house being sold is particularly large or expensive. This can impact poorer peoples' ability to move into more appropriate accommodation."


Read Foresight’s Future of an ageing population final report to find out more about how housing will affect the future of an ageing population.

Sign up for email updates from this blog to read more information from the Future of an Ageing Population project and other Foresight projects.

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