The planning and building of extra care retirement communities should be treated the same way as care homes, a House of Lords committee on intergenerational fairness has concluded.
In a report, the Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision recommended that the the government should issue guidance clarifying which planning class extra care retirement communities fall within.
Inconsistencies in planning class is preventing more retirement communities from being built, it said.
Care homes are classified as C2, whilst regular houses are classified as C3. Properties classified as C2 can face fewer planning restrictions as to where they are built and have fees waived.
In the report, the body representative of the UK retirement community sector, the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) said: ‘There is a large body of case law and precedent confirming that genuine housing-with-care schemes often fall within the C2 use class, as they are capable of delivering high levels of care to older people.
‘However, there is much confusion and inconsistency between different councils’ approaches to specialist older people’s housing-with care in terms of what use class such specialist accommodation falls within.’
Retirement communities reduce overall care costs and reduce NHS costs by 38%, an average saving of £1,114.94 per person per year, but the UK has much lower levels of people living in retirement communities than comparable countries, said Gareth Lyon, head of policy and communications at ARCO.
‘In Australia, New Zealand and the US, between 5% and 6% of older people live in retirement communities. In the UK, that figure is 0.5% to 0.6%,’ Lyon stated in the document.
‘The cost of providing lower level social care in a retirement community has been found to be £1,222 (17.8%) less per person per year than providing the same level of care in the wider community.
‘The cost of providing higher level social care has been found to be £4,556 (26%) less per person per year. NHS costs reduce by 38% for those moving into Retirement Communities, an average saving of £1,114.94 per person per year. This relates to GP visits, nurse visits, and hospital visits,’ Lyon concluded.
The report, titled Tackling intergenerational unfairness, covered housing, education and distribution of income and wealth and made a series of conclusions and recommendations to the government.