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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 4 February, 2015

 

Report of the Director of Visible Service and Housing

 

Options for Increasing Older Persons' Accommodation

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide information on the Council's options for increasing the supply of older persons' accommodation in the Vale of Glamorgan across all tenures.

Recommendation

1.         That the options for increasing the supply older persons' accommodation in the Vale of Glamorgan across all tenures be noted.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         For information and so all Members are aware of options for increasing the supply older persons' accommodation.

Background

2.         This report is provided following a request from the Chair of this Committee for information on increasing Older Persons' accommodation.

3.         The Vale of Glamorgan has an ageing population; the population change in the County between 2001 and 2011 was similar to the Wales and UK averages for most age-groups.  However, the 45 to 64, 75 to 84, and 85+ categories all expanded at a faster than average rate. However, the 65 to 74 group saw a 3.5% increase in the Vale of Glamorgan whereas both Wales and the UK experienced contractions. Within the Vale of Glamorgan, information regarding demographic trends indicates that there will be a considerable increase in the number of people aged 65 and over and the proportion of people aged 85 and over (See Table 1).

Table 1 -  Predicted Population Changes 2015-2020

Stats Wales population projections based on 2008 LA projections as 2011

Age Range

2011 Census Population

2015

2020

% increase by 2020

65 – 69

6,824

8,060

7,610

12%

70 – 74

5,543

6,410

7,650

38%

75 – 79

4,260

4,940

5,830

37%

80 – 84

3,275

3,500

4,190

28%

85+

3,153

3,700

4,300

36%

Total

23,055

26,610

29,580

28%

 

4.         The quality, suitability, adaptability and affordability of housing for older people are recognised as crucial factors which enable individuals to continue to live independently for as long as possible.

5.         The majority of households over the age of 65 in the Vale of Glamorgan are owner occupiers (82%) or living in social housing (11.9%), a minority of people aged over 65 live in the private rented sector (4.1%).  Most older people live in ‘ordinary’ accommodation, a minority live in ‘specialist’ forms of housing such as sheltered housing, retirement housing or age exclusive housing available to older people (See Table 2).

Table 2- Tenure of People Aged 65+

Tenure

Percentage

Owner Occupiers

82.4%

Social Rented

11.9%

Private Rented

4.1%

 

6.         The Vale of Glamorgan has a small supply of specialist or designated older persons housing (excluding care provision); approximately 950 properties, including flats and bungalows.  These are located across the county, although the proportion of such properties in Barry is considerably larger.  Most older persons' housing is managed by Registered Social Landlords and available for rent (89%). There is also a limited supply of older persons' housing available to own or part own (11%).

7.         The limited supply of older persons' specialist housing available to privately rent or own falls noticeably short, especially when considering that the majority of older people currently live in a property which they own or rent privately. This shortfall is reflected in the profile of older people who apply for social housing; over 50% of Homes4U applicants over the age of 50 do not currently live in the social rented sector and 15% are homeowners.

8.         'Ageing in place’ and remaining at home are often stated as being the best solution for remaining independent in later life.  However whilst many people will wish to remain at home, there are also factors which motivate an older person to move home; for example; moving to a more manageable, smaller or supported property which may improve a person’s ability to live independently.

9.         In order to meet the housing needs of the ageing population in the Vale of Glamorgan there is a need to explore the options for increasing the supply of older persons' accommodation in the Vale of Glamorgan across all tenures.

10.      An Accommodation with Care Group has been established to look at changing needs and expectations, alongside resource issues and demand pressures, in order to increase the range of options available to older people across all sectors.  This group is considering a wide range of service developments. It is chaired by the Head of Business Management and Innovation, members of the Group are Head of Housing and Building Services, Head of Finance, Major Projects Manager and a representative from the Business Improvement Team.

11.      The priorities identified by the Accommodation with Care Group will inform the priorities for housing development led by the Council's Housing Department. 

12.      The Local Housing Strategy 2015-20 identifies the need to plan accommodation for older people as part of the objective to 'develop appropriate housing to meet specific needs within the community'. 

Relevant Issues and Options

13.      In order to explore how the Council could assist to increase the supply of older persons' accommodation in the Vale of Glamorgan, the options will be presented by tenure:

Affordable Housing

14.      The development of affordable housing options for older people is considered as part of the Council's Strategic Housing Function. Affordable housing is delivered on affordable housing developments which receive financial subsidy in the form of grant funding from  Welsh Government and through S106 contributions of market housing developments.

Grant Funding

15.      Social Housing Grant (SHG) is a capital grant made available by  Welsh Government to Registered Social landlords (RSLs) to provide new affordable housing for rent or for low cost home ownership. The current three year allocation of SHG made available to the Vale of Glamorgan is as follows:

2013/14  - £1,105,635 and £633,238 (from the additional funding to develop one and two bedroom properties)

2014/15  - £1,105,635

2015/16  - £1,105,635

 

16.      The Council has fully committed the current three year grant allocation up to 2015-16 and has committed to allocating the anticipated future grant funding up to 2017-18.

17.      The use of Social Housing Grant is currently prioritised for the development of one and two bedroom properties to enable people to downsize from existing housing stock into more appropriately sized accommodation. There has been a significant increase in demand for one and two bedroom properties due to the welfare reform changes, primarily the removal of the spare room subsidy, and the shortage of small properties available in the Vale of Glamorgan.

18.      One and two bedroom properties are included on all new affordable housing developments due to the increased demand. However in order to promote social cohesion and minimise anti-social behaviour on these sites the number of small units is not being maximised.  The Council could consider increasing the number of small properties on affordable housing sites by including a mix of properties for general needs and restricting designated older persons’ accommodation by an age limit.

19.      In the future there is also the option to prioritise the use of Social Housing Grant for the development of older persons' accommodation, but this does need to be balanced against the priorities for other age and client groups, including the demand for accessible housing, supported and specialist housing, as well as general needs properties.

20.      The type of properties which older people want and need also has to be considered, as these can require a higher amount of grant funding.  The options which are most costly include bungalows due to the foot print of land required and accommodation with facilities on site, such as Extra Care housing due to the additional cost associated with providing services such as restaurants and communal space.

21.      The Acceptable Cost Guidance (2012) published by Welsh Government for Social Housing Grant funded housing in Wales demonstrates the varying cost for different types of accommodation, including those which would be suitable for older people:

A 3 person, 2-bed flat can cost up to £113,900 compared to a 3 person, 2-bed bungalow which can cost up to £146,200.  In addition, the supplement to ensure a property is wheelchair accessible is up to £57,900 per property.

(Calculated using the Band 4 property rates which apply to Barry, Rhoose and St. Athan.)

22.      Based on these costs, the delivery of bungalows would not yield as many properties as flats within the grant allocation the county receives.  This needs to be balanced against the significant housing needs of the ageing population.

23.      Additional funding opportunities may be available from alternative sources.  For example money generated from the sale of Gardenhurst has been put aside to support future social care developments for older people.

24.      The Wales Co-operative Centre is working with the Vale Council to ensure proper engagement with stakeholders, including older people, in developing new accommodation with care services.

S106 Contributions of Market Housing Developments

25.      Affordable housing is also gained through the S106 contributions from market housing developments. This planning condition can either be met by providing affordable housing onsite or via an off-site financial contribution.

26.      Suitable properties provided on-site, such as small houses and flats, could provide an option for additional older persons' accommodation.  However the homes built by market developers will not always be appropriate for older people; for example larger houses, properties with steps up and flats without lifts.  The Council would need to be mindful of designating unsuitable properties for older people, as although the property may be suitable for the older person upon allocation, it may become unsuitable in the future if they developed mobility or other disability issues.

27.      Off-site financial contributions can be used to develop additional affordable housing on alternative sites.  This could include the development of properties specifically for older people, including accessible, level access and purpose built properties. This would then be developed as an affordable housing site in the same way as was discussed in the previous section.  However it is often difficult to identify sites for sale which are financially viable for the development of affordable housing, given the land price aspirations of the owner, which tend to favour larger developers as they are more able to pay higher land costs.

Council Housing

28.      The Council owns and manages a stock of sheltered housing and properties designated for older people.  Included in this stock is the Brecon Court scheme in Barry which is designated for people aged 55 and over. This scheme, which consists of 32 flats has a number of structural issues, as such the Council has resolved to consult with tenants and consider the options for redevelopment of the building and/ or site (Cabinet minute: C2114).  Re-development of the site as new older persons' accommodation is being considered.

29.      The last Council owned home built in the Vale of Glamorgan was constructed in 1999.  The development of Council homes ended when borrowing caps were applied to local authority Housing Revenue Accounts (HRA) by HM Treasury.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council, along with the ten other stock-retaining local authorities will exit the HRA system in March 2015.  Whilst a borrowing cap will be maintained in order to continue to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS), there is also capacity within the Council’s Business Plan to consider the development of new Council owned homes.

30.      The Council’s Housing Department owns land which could be used for the development of new Council homes.  The potential for the Council to have its own house building programme, in addition to the programme of development using Social Housing Grant, would contribute to an increased supply of affordable housing.

31.      The Council's house building programme could prioritise the development of accessible, adapted, purpose built and older persons accommodation which are typically the most costly to deliver.  This would contribute to meeting the housing needs of older people.

Market Housing

32.      The development of market housing for older people is outside of the Council’s influence, affected by market conditions and the development aspirations of market house builders.  The profit margins required by market house builders may deter them from developing the types of accommodation desired by older people, for example bungalows and supported housing options. 

33.      Market housing is essentially market led; if demand for smaller homes increase as the population ages then the private sector may respond to this demand.

34.      There are private developers who offer market sheltered and supported housing developments for older people.  It would be for them to identify suitable land as is the case for market housing developers.  Again interest from such providers may increase in the Vale of Glamorgan if they consider there is a market for their particular housing product. In terms of Planning Policy, the Vale of Glamorgan Council does not require volume house builders to consider the housing needs of older people and there is no current local planning policy to promote the supply of housing for older people.

35.      The requirement for volume house builders to provide market housing suitable for older people could be considered, through the interpretation on national Planning Policy.  Market house builders could be encouraged to include properties which are suitable for older people, for example two bedroom houses and bungalows suitable for people looking to downsize, within the mix of properties built on each site.

36.      Where the Council is selling land there is an option to restrict the land use to the development of residential accommodation for older people, i.e. aged over 50.  This restriction could however have an impact on the sales value.

37.      In addition to market development by small and volume house builders, Registered Social Landlords can develop market housing for rent or sale. These properties could be designed to meet the needs housing needs of older people, either as a stand-alone market housing development or on cross-subsidised sites which include affordable housing.

38.      Taking all the aforementioned factors into account the future provision of accommodation for Older People will be addressed via the Local Housing Strategy 2015-20.  The Strategy is shortly to be considered by Cabinet and once agreed will be amended annually to address changes in demand, finances, legislation and National Housing Policies.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

39.      The development of affordable housing using Social Housing Grant is restricted by the annual grant allocation from Welsh Government.

40.      Building new Council housing is subject to borrowing capacity with the Housing Revenue Account and the Business Plan.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

41.      Good quality, well maintained housing which meets the needs of residents contributes to the sustainability of neighbourhoods.

42.      New housing is built to high standards of energy efficiency which minimises the impact of new housing on climate change.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

43.      The Council has a statutory duty to understand local housing need and plan for how this need will be met. Considering the options for increasing the supply of housing for older people will contribute to meeting this duty.

Crime and Disorder Implications

44.      There are no negative crime and disorder implications arising from this the report.

45.      Promoting an adequate supply of housing in the Vale of Glamorgan will contribute to a reduction of homelessness, greater community cohesion and safer communities.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

46.      Considering the options for increasing the supply of older persons’ accommodation is supportive of the Council's Equal Opportunities ethos as it aims to improve the equality of access to housing throughout the County.

Corporate/Service Objectives

47.      This report is consistent with the Corporate Objectives of the Council: Housing: Vale of Glamorgan residents have access to affordable, good quality suitable housing and housing advice and support.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

48.      As this is a Vale wide issue no specific ward member consultation has been undertaken.

Background Papers

Housing Business Plan

Housing Strategy 2015 - 20

 

Contact Officer

Jenny Lewington - Housing Strategy Officer - 01446 709326.

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Housing

Strategy and Supporting People Manager

Accountant - Housing

Legal - Committee Reports

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

 

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