Government has published plans for reducing the gap between different parts of the UK in a 332 page document, Levelling up.

The main focus is on improving transport, education and broadband.

However, the importance of housing to the levelling up agenda is noted, emphasising increasing home ownership, and the quality of existing homes is mentioned:

‘Having a decent home is fundamental to our well-being and housing quality must be addressed in order to create thriving neighbourhoods and communities. It is unacceptable that there are people living in homes that do not pass basic standards of decency and which hold back the flourishing of the children and families living in them’. (p.221)

Given that half of non-decent homes (2 million) are lived in by older people, 78% of them disadvantaged older homeowners, the document is thin on specific action to address this critical issue, and there is no mention of any funding to tackle private sector housing disrepair (cut by 100% in 2010).



The one proposed action concerning older people living in non-decent homes is to set up a Task Force looking at supply of alternative housing. 

For older people trapped in non-decent or unsuitable accommodation, the UK Government will work to increase the choices available to them. A new Task Force will be launched shortly to look at ways better choice, quality and security of housing for older people can be provided, including how to address regional disparities in supply of appropriate and where necessary specialised housing.’ (p.226)



 We know that 96% of older households live in ordinary, mainstream homes, and a large majority of older people (90%+) are satisfied with and wish to continue to live in their current home and neighbourhood. This can be made possible with a very modest level of practical help with repairs and adaptations, making homes safe, warm and supporting healthy, independent later life.

Whilst specialist and supported housing is a useful option for around 4% of older households (c.500,000), even if this was doubled, the health and wellbeing of millions more older people would be improved through targeted retrofit of existing homes, particularly in the ‘levelling up’ areas.


Let us hope this Task Force will take a hard look at the housing data and acknowledge the reality of disadvantaged older people’s homes and lives.

[FEB 2022]