RHG's main purpose is to improve the supply, range and quality of housing for older people. We do this firstly by producing original research that shows how much retirement housing is needed. These findings are used to make the case for retirement housing to Government and local policy makers. We often operate in the background, working with Government departments and agencies to find practical ways to implement or improve a policy.
In addition we have developed briefings and toolkits to help improve communication between our members and policy makers. Successful retirement housing development needs specialised knowledge of the planning system. RHG members can provide this knowledge because they work with the planning system every day. The briefings explain what prevents housing being built for older people and suggest how barriers can be overcome.
Event fees are charges that may become payable when a leasehold retirement property is re-sold or sub-let. Not all providers charge these fees but some do as a way of keeping down day to day costs for residents. The Law Commissioner has investigated event fees to address a twofold concern:
a) some residents have faced unexpected expense because information about event fees was not provided when they purchased their homes and
b) how to ensure full and clear information is given to purchasers and that poor practice is avoided, especially where properties are sold through an estate agent.
RHG has fed into the consultation process and the Law Commissioner has attended a meeting with our members. Recommended guidance has been published and is awaiting a response from government. RHG is reassured by the recommendation for greater transparency and that Event Fees will only be enforceable if correctly sold. The new guidance on event fees and background documents can be accessed via this link
Making downsizing more affordable
Older people can be put off downsizing due to the high cost of moving. Our briefing Stamp Duty and retirement housing shows how this cost could be reduced by changing the Stamp Duty rules for downsizers. These Stamp Duty concessions would lead to a range of benefits:
- Most of all, older people could more easily afford to downsize.
- Larger households would possibly have more chance to move.
- More people moving would also mean more income for the Treasury.
Assisting local authorities
There is no doubt that as the UK population ages, we need to better respond to the housing needs of older people by providing a better choice of accommodation. One way of doing this is through the provision of specialist retirement housing. Our research shows that in most areas there is a shortage of specialist retirement housing for sale. There is often an excess of rented accommodation, although this may not always be of a good quality. To help councils ensure there is enough attractive retirement housing we have produced Introducing Retirement Housing. This guide explains what is different about retirement housing and how planning policies can support its development.
In addition, RHG has developed advice about the Community Infrastructure Levy. This is to help councils make sure that they set a levy that will not make retirement development too expensive to build. Our advice has been followed by most local authority advisers.
Furthermore, we are developing a series of "heat maps" at County level. These documents contain maps and a commentary for each district within the county. They may help policy makers by showing where the greatest need for retirement housing will exist in coming years.
RHG also aims to improve local policies by responding to local authority consultations and SHMA evidence gathering.
We provide informal feedback on individual queries and draft policies - please contact us for more information.