Generation stuck for older Scots' housing

Steve Wiseman wants pledges in political parties' election manifestos

Scottish Parliament elections will be held in early May. Picture: Julie Howden

As the May election approaches older Scots will be looking to see if their needs feature in party manifestos.

By 2033 almost one in four Scots will be of pensionable age. By 2033 the number of over 75s will reach 724,000, almost double the 2008 total.

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And the number of Scots living longer poses serious questions for future housing, planning, health and social care policies.

To highlight the issue McCarthy & Stone has launched its own Manifesto, Improving Housing Choices for Older People. In it we ask the Scottish Government to strengthen Scottish Planning Policy to place greater emphasis on meeting the needs of our ageing population and to provide greater clarity regarding retirement housing’s exemption from affordable housing contributions.

And choice of accommodation is important. More than one in three homeowners expect to consider downsizing, but they cannot find the right ofaccommodation in the right location. Providing appropriate accommodation for older Scots releases family homes into a market desperate for such accommodation. But the opportunity to downsize is limited.

Scotland has only 36,000 sheltered housing units with just 10 per cent privately owned. Yet 76 per cent of older Scots are homeowners and wish to remain so when they do downsize.

In Giffnock, we developed Scotland’s first Assisted Living Extra Care development, a model since replicated in Cults and Edinburgh. Residents retain the independence of home ownership but have the added peace of mind that there is 24 hour on-site care and management.

Political parties should need no encouragement to address the issue; they should remember that older voters vote in more numbers than any other group, and their numbers are growing!

• Steve Wiseman, managing director, McCarthy & Stone in Scotland