Older persons housing strategy
Local level priorities
Findings from a Housing Stock Condition survey of Welwyn Hatfield area covering all housing tenures has identified particular concentrations of fuel poverty and excess cold in the private sector in some wards. Local health data indicates there were an average of 25.9 excess winter deaths over the previous 3 years of which a number will be a direct result of older age and fuel poverty. This work underpins the development of Welwyn Hatfield's Fuel Poverty Strategy, to support residents affected.
Through the Council's Asset Management Strategy we continue to review energy efficiency in our homes for older people, to develop programmes of improvement and to determine the fuel poverty challenges for residents.
In 2012 there were reported to be 4.2 million older people in England living in homes that are too big for their needs in both the rented and owner occupied sector. (Data collated from the English Housing Survey 2014/15 suggests that figure may now have increased) There is a need to ensure that suitable housing options are available that meet the needs and aspirations of the older generation in Welwyn Hatfield, in order to encourage a higher number of older people to move or "right size" at the right time in their life.
The council has an under occupation and overcrowding strategy the primary purpose of which is to make best use of council-owned homes. The strategy prioritises work around encouraging older single people or couples living in family sized accommodation to move to smaller, affordable and more manageable homes.
Larger homes freed up in this way can be used to assist council tenants who are currently overcrowded or applicants on the council's Housing Register in need of larger homes.
Also to address under occupation, the allocations policy band E (no housing need) has remained a category for people aged over 60, this gives under-occupiers in various tenures the option to move into smaller properties or sheltered
It is a continuing priority in this borough to enable people to live independently in their own homes.
In the private sector the council oversees the assessment and distribution of the disabled facilities grant. This grant allows people who are eligible, funding to install aids and adaptations that enable them to remain living independently in their home
The council is developing an aids and adaptations policy which focuses on making best use of council-owned homes and also on securing value for money for expenditure on aids and adaptations. Its approach includes providing aids and adaptations to enable older people to remain independent, but also to encourage households to consider other housing options such as moving to an alternative home which is better able to meet their housing and support needs.
Affordable Housing Programme
The Council has its own Affordable Housing Programme which can provide the framework and opportunity for the development and improvement of older people's housing in the borough.
As part of this programme, combined with the asset review of Council housing in the Borough, will help inform options on the suitability of remodelling, refurbishing existing council older person accommodation. This will also help inform decisions on appropriate older persons new build accommodation that meets both the need and aspirations of residents seeking suitable accommodation as they age and both life style and housing requirements change.
The council is also thinking innovatively to increase supply of affordable homes by looking into the viability of alternative schemes such as offering owner occupiers a council home in exchange for their property at a discounted rate.
Key challenges arising from the local context
- Developing partnerships to ensure the increased demand identified for specified housing for older people and specialist care facilities identified in the local plan is met.
- Recognition that some initiatives can be progressed more quickly than others and that a medium and longer term strategy and programme requires significant resources to meet objectives and that the council may need to revise and adapt its strategy as we progress.
- Encouraging use of the 10 HAPPI design principles into redevelopment of older peoples housing or any new developments that evolve in the borough
- Encouraging people to plan for and "right-size" at the right time, to reduce the number of more urgent "need based" moves when older people are in crisis because their housing no longer meets their needs
- Tackling under-occupation across tenure in the over 50s
- Improve the information available and methods of communication used to ensure that older people in the borough are well informed about the housing options available to them in later life and around the process of moving.
- Work in a harmonised way with HCC to ensure that strategies and plans are aligned and we maximise the opportunities that arise from close partnership working.