Friday, 25 April 2014

Ageing population is 'opportunity' for landlords

Britain’s rapidly ageing population and the radical restructure of the National Health Service presents housing with a unique commercial opportunity that could help attract new investment into the sector, a chief executive has claimed.

David Jepson, interim chief executive of Regenda, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester that the crisis facing the NHS was ‘massive’.

He cited trends charted by the OECD dependency ratio, which charts the number of people in employment against the number who are retired.

‘At the moment that ratio is 4.4. By 2050 it will be 2.2, in other words it will have halved. It means that the [first] group of people have to work twice as hard to generate the resources in order to support social services and health services,’ Mr Jepson said.

The Kings Fund estimates that by 2022 the NHS will be underfunded to the tune of £30 million a year, and over-75s already take up three times the NHS resources of a younger person. More importantly a ‘new and much more determined group’ of pensioners will expect a higher standard of care than previous generations.

Mr Jepson said it is up to housing associations to step in and help tackle the problem – and they will be rewarded in return.

‘Given the scale of the challenge, something dramatic is going to have to be done in order to be able to deliver the services that people need. I think the link with housing providers is one part of that solution.

‘There are real opportunities for housing associations here. There is a commercial opportunity because there are ways in which we can work with the health service to reduce costs to the NHS, which would enable some investment to be put back into the work we do.’

He said housing had a specific role to play in working with the NHS to tackle health challenges specific to individual neighbourhoods by working in those communities.

‘We tend to house people who are frequent fliers with the health service. There is huge demand coming from our stock. What we have got to demonstrate is not just that we are improving people’s wellbeing, but by doing that we are reducing real costs in the NHS.’

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