There are currently 12 million people over 65 in the UK with accelerating growth in these numbers over the coming years as healthcare advances progress. Clearly these advances are to be celebrated as we look forward to a fitter and healthier older age. Certainly, when Bidwells was established my former colleagues would have been looking forward to meagre 40 years of life. 

But, as science overcomes challenges and makes leaps forward, the implications of a growing number of older people for the country need to be addressed. One of the key issues relates to suitable housing and care. This is one of the greatest challenges the UK will face over the coming years and has been the subject of multiple studies and a recent Select Committee report.

At present only a fraction of older households live in senior housing despite research finding far more people are interested in such options than actually live in them. This is an issue for the individuals involved, their families and capacity in the wider housing market. There are no short term fixes and the unfolding position will require we engage with alternative housing and lifestyles personally, but more importantly will demand change in fiscal structures and institutional initiative to drive new financing models for the future.

Bidwells is working on a programme of research with Professor Michael Ball to investigate the factors that are inhibiting the growth of the senior housing sector in the UK, in particular the financial arrangements necessary to enable those, that the research tells us are interested in such housing, to make the move. Nearly 75% of the over 65s in the UK are homeowners and therefore any intervention to support the senior housing sector needs to tackle the issues facing this growing cohort of our population. In the first paper in our series, Homeowner demand for senior housing in the UK: Problems in search of solutions, Professor Ball the challenges that need to be addressed are outlined.

In the next paper, to be published in September, Professor Ball will consider deliverable financial and fiscal solutions, and the development options that could be generated as a result. This will present opportunities for senior housing developer /operators sector and the institutional investment market.

The need for radical solutions for an emerging senior housing crisis is critical. The forecasts* noted this first paper estimate the number of senior household (65+) over the coming 25 years will be equivalent to the household base of Inner London. Over the same period there will be an estimated five-fold increase in owner occupied specialised housing senior housing demand.

This clearly presents opportunities for the senior developer and care sector but will depend on a fit for purpose fiscal and investment backdrop. We are therefore very grateful to Professor Ball for working with us on this important issue, for us as a society, but also for the property sector. 

We hope the contribution of this, and the forthcoming paper in September, will assist all with a role to play in arriving at this fit for purpose structure.

12 million

people in the UK are over 65


of the over 65's in the UK are homeowners







*Ball, M. and Nanda, A. "Household attributes and the future demand for retirement housing", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, 6.1, 45-62, 2013.


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