Disabled Facilities Grant and other adaptations – external review published and housing important in Government survey of older people

An independent review of the Disabled Facilities Grant in England, commissioned by DHSC and MHCLG and written by the University of the West of England, Foundations, the Building Research Establishment and Ferret Information System was published in December 2018.

After health and finance, older people identify housing as the third most pressing issue to address with regard to population ageing. In a large scale survey of older people carried out for the Government by Saga, 52% of respondents said that designing housing and communities to meet the needs of multiple generations was one of the main societal issues that arise from people living longer (the third most important issue after health and finance).

Home repairs expenditure was reported as the main use of disposable income after holidays. The survey was undertaken in Nov 2018 in connection with the Ageing Society Grand Challenge.

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Planning Ahead: influencing local planning on housing and ageing

The Older People’s Housing Champions Group, working in partnership with Care & Repair England has published Planning Ahead: Influencing local planning on housing and ageing

This new guide provides an overview of the planning system and potential opportunities to influence the homes and neighbourhoods being planned and built, particularly regarding making good inclusive places to live as people get older. It also contains a practical example of how High Peak Access Group influenced the Local Plan

It is aimed at local older people’s groups and forums and draws on the experience of members of the older people’s housing champions network and on a session held earlier this year with Katy Lock, projects and policy manager, from the Town and Country Planning Association. [November 2018]

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Reading for the darker nights: A number of reports focused on housing and ageing have recently been published

Here is an update on several useful reports published in the last month or so that consider issues of housing and ageing:

  1. Published in October Housing and Ageing: Linking Strategy to future delivery for Scotland, Wales and England 2030, recommends that housing should play a central role in the provision of services for older people. Led by the University of Stirling, this cross border research concludes that housing should be at the heart of service integration whether older people choose to stay in their existing home or move.
  2. The Government launched its first cross-Government strategy to tackle loneliness in October too. There is a chapter on housing.
  3. Poor housing occupied by people with long term health problems or disability, particularly older home-owners, is a major and growing problem in the North of England and requires urgent government action. This is the headline conclusion of a new report, The hidden costs of poor quality housing in the North published by the Northern Housing Consortium The report calls for a new Decent Private Homes grants programme, arguing that there is strong evidence that intervention costs would be offset against reduced care and health expenditure.
  4. Adapting for Ageing, published by the Centre for Ageing Better, highlights local innovation and good practice in delivery of home adaptations for older people by pioneers across England.

The report, researched and written by Care & Repair England, describes a range of innovative approaches to enable councils, commissioners, home improvement agencies and social housing providers to learn from the good practice it has uncovered.

It describes what a ‘good’ service looks like from the perspective of older people, providing a breakdown of key factors against which local areas can review their own services.  [October 2018]

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Housing Action by Older People’s Groups in Hull and Wirral

These reports from Hull and Wirral sit alongside the work of the Older People’s Housing Champions Group on developing their Ideas for Action* guides working with local older people’s groups and organisations across England.

These guides offer practical ideas for older people’s groups, forums and organisations who want to influence local housing policy, plans and action. In Hull and Wirral older people have come together to influence housing policy and plans locally and have been written up to share ideas with others.

All the reports and guides can be accessed here.

These reports also highlight pioneering ways to engage with older people whose voices are less often heard.

If you are taking any local action on housing and ageing, we would love to hear from you. [August 2018]

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Handyperson services: New evidence of cost benefits

A new report from Care & Repair England concludes that handyperson services offer a high rate of return on investment, as well as wider social benefits, and are highly prized by older people, particularly ‘older old’ single women living alone.

Small but Significant: The impact and cost benefits of handyperson services – clearly shows how these low cost schemes, which carry out small repairs and minor adaptations for older people (primarily delivered by not for profit Care and Repair and other home improvement agencies) result in fiscal and social gains to the NHS and Social Care.

The report includes a detailed evaluation of the Preston Care and Repair Handyperson Service, identifying a high level of use of the service by ‘older old’ (80yrs+) people and more vulnerable groups, particularly the rising number of older single women living alone, often with chronic long term health conditions, reducing mobility and sight loss.

Handyperson services provide older people with great relief from worry about their home, resulting in them feeling more independent and in control:

  • 96% of older people said that the Preston Care & Repair handyperson service made them less worried about their home
  • 100% would recommend the service to others

Relevant to policy makers, service planners, commissioners and providers, Small but Significant shows how handyperson services can play a critical role in the integration and prevention agendas.

A short summary brochure is also available here.  [July 2018]

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Ideas for action guides: practical ideas to influence local housing policy, plans and action

The Older People’s Housing Champions Group, in partnership with Care & Repair England and local organisations from different parts of England, has published a series of Ideas for Action guides.

These Ideas for Action guides, plus a linked ‘Housing Voices‘ film, resource pack and report from Elders Council of Newcastle working with Skimstone Arts and Northumbria University, offer practical ideas for older people’s groups, forums and organisations who want to influence local housing policy, plans and action.

They highlight pioneering ways to engage with older people whose voices are less often heard.

We are very grateful to the Esmèe Fairbairn Foundation for making this work possible.

The guides, film and resources can all be accessed here [July 2018]

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Reports on housing and ageing of interest

Home owners and poverty

This report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examines the relationship between home-ownership and poverty for all age groups. One of its conclusions is that ‘the poor housing conditions among home-owners in poverty, particularly older outright owners, need greater attention. Fixing homes that are cold, dangerous or in poor repair should enable older people to stay in their homes for longer, and avoid homes becoming a potential cause of ill-health’

Housing and Disabled People – Britain’s Hidden crisis

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has published this report which reveals the findings of an 18 month-long Inquiry, detailing a wide range of recommendations, and calling on UK governments to take urgent action to make homes adaptable and accessible to everyone.

Regarding home adaptations the report calls on local authorities to tackle delays within adaptations systems and ensure that low-cost, minor adaptations in particular can be installed quickly and easily. It is also recommending improved provision of independent information and advice about housing options, including adaptations. [May 2018]

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New reports on housing published in the last couple of months

• Housing and health: Opportunities for sustainability and transformation partnerships – new report from the Kings Fund with the National Federation of Housing Associations

• Sector showcase – housing and independent living report from Housing LIN and Chartered Institute of Housing

• The right place to live a report from Independent Age on private renters aged 65 and over

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Welcome report from Communities and Local Government Committee calls for action on older people’s housing

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee Inquiry into Older People’s Housing has concluded that a national strategy for older people’s housing is needed to bring together and improve policy in this area.

The CLG Committee’s report on Housing for Older People recommends that the wider availability of housing advice and information should be central to the strategy and the existing FirstStop Advice Service should be re-funded by the Government to provide an expanded national telephone advice service.

The Committee’s recommendations also include:

  • Additional funding for Home Improvement Agencies operating services including a handyperson service for older people.
  • A range of measures to help older people overcome the barriers to moving home.
  • Ensuring that national and local planning policy encourages the building of more of all types of housing for older people – with older people involved in the design process and amending the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • Building all new homes to accessible and adaptable standards so that they are ‘age proofed’ and can meet the current and future needs of older people.

The Committee also calls for the Government to recognise the link between housing, health and social care in the forthcoming Adult Social Care Green Paper [Feb 2018]

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Recent announcements on repairs and adaptations


For the first time in more than a decade the number of non-decent homes in the owner-occupied sector has increased, rising from 2,694,000 in 2015 to 2,912,000 in 2016 – 19.7% of sector stock.

See the latest English Housing Survey Headline report (2016-17) and a blog from Sue Adams from Care & Repair England on the impact http://careandrepair-england.org.uk/2018/01/perfect-storm/


The additional £42m capital grant for home adaptations (announced in the 2017 Autumn Statement) has now been paid out *directly to Local Housing Authorities.

On 24 January the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a statement to this effect, noting that the council receiving the biggest share is Birmingham, paid £1,007,785.

At the time of the original announcement some local authorities expressed concern about their capacity to complete works and spend the capital in the current financial year.

However, many areas have been working to streamline systems, including creating fast track arrangements, or reviewing the scope for carrying forward other funds into 2018-2019 and using this additional money first.

*DFG main funding is paid via the Better Care Fund

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