ARCO seeks commitment over retirement community growth

Political parties are being asked to support the growth of the retirement community sector in their manifestos.

Government policy in the UK has so far failed to deliver housing, support and care options to hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK, the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), has said.

It said housing, health and social care policy had failed to ‘join up the dots’ and the country needed to be ambitious in finding innovative solutions that can address housing and care needs of the ageing population.

It is asking parties to commit to providing an additional 175,000 older people with access to next generation retirement communities by 2030.

ARCO wants a cross government task force set up to review regulation that prevents accelerated growth in the sector.

It also wants to see a commitment to empowering and protecting older people in their choices and decisions concerning their housing and care. This should include clarity over any fees and charges they may face – and over what they can expect from their provider.

The representative body believes a task force could provide a sector-specific legal and regulatory framework that protects consumers and offers clarity for operators; help overcome barriers in the planning system; provide a clear definition of ‘retirement community’; and work with the sector to establish more flexible forms of tenure.

Michael Voges, ARCO executive director, said: ‘This election is an opportunity for all parties to make a clear statement of their ambitions to grow a world class housing with care system for older people in the UK.

‘Currently the UK lags well behind comparable countries in its provision of housing with care. Changing this will unlock billions of pounds of savings for the NHS and social care, free up hundreds of thousands of houses, attract tens of billions of pounds of investment and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of older people.

‘This is a policy all parties should be able to get behind – showing leadership and taking a long-term view of how we provide for our ageing population.’

The political parties’ manifestos are due to be published in the coming days.