'Independent living' fund announced
Published on 30 October 2012 11:30 AM
The Government has announced new plans to help older people live in their own homes for longer.
Funding worth £300 million will be made available to town halls and housing providers to help them build specially adapted homes.
As many as 9,000 supported properties could be built under the scheme, with features such as fewer stairs, lower cupboards and adapted bathrooms.
Ministers say the initiative will help local authorities to ensure that older and disabled people can stay living independently for longer and are not forced into care.
It is also hoped that the new properties will make it easier for the residents to carry out everyday tasks, which will help to take some of the pressure off their carers.
'Most people want to live at home for as long as possible'
Announcing the scheme, Care Minister Norman Lamb said the thousands of homes to be built with the new funding would help to provide more housing options and an alternative to residential care for older people.
He added: 'Most people want to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible and, as the population ages, more and more of us will need housing that supports us.'
The scheme was also welcomed by London mayor Boris Johnson, who called on developers to create 'truly innovative proposals' to provide a benchmark for how this type of adapted housing should be delivered.
Johnson added that such 'well-designed, accessible homes' could help give many older people renewed independence.
Homes and Communities Agency chief executive Pat Ritchie added: 'This fund recognises the benefits which high-quality housing opportunities for both older and disabled people can have in allowing them to remain independent for longer - raising their quality of life and helping reduce the burden on the health service.'
'Only part of the solution'
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director general, welcomed news of this fund, underlining that it will mean that councils and housing associations can build and adapt housing for older people on a low income, helping them to live well and safely in their own homes rather than moving into more costly residential care.
However, Ms Mitchell stressed that adapted housing is only part of the solution. She commented: 'Adapted housing can make life easier for many older people, but it will not alleviate the need for social care and support in most cases.
'Well-designed housing is only one piece of the jigsaw as to how this country adapts to the needs on an ageing population. We need to make sure that our wider communities are also age-friendly - for example, easily accessible high streets, good public transport links and shops that cater for the needs of older and disabled customers.'
Copyright Press Association 2012