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Over-60s social care – a model fit for the future: a blog by Kevin Beirne

27 Nov 2018 By Octopus Real Estate

At Octopus Healthcare, we put people at the heart of everything we do. It’s what drives us, and it’s the reason why we’re not afraid to ask challenging questions.

While it’s great that more people are living longer – longevity comes at a cost – how do we support the ageing population with an underfunded care model?

As pioneering investors in public health projects, we sponsored a live discussion at the Conservative Party Conference where Damian Green, the MP for Ashford in Kent, and Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, discussed what could be in store for the over-60s.

An age-old conundrum

Society is getting older, so making a difference means having to face facts and providing viable ways to cater for this. By 2035, the over-65s will account for 23% of the population. As a society, we need to think about how to fund a care system that meets the physical and emotional needs of the older generation.

As Damian acknowledged, the issues facing social care stem from the mismatch between the demographics of our ageing population and an underfunded care model that isn’t fit for purpose.

Finding answers…

While discussing the potential answers to these questions, Damian and Fraser stated that the Governments’ easy answer could be to increase tax to pay for care. But they also acknowledged it’s not as simple as it sounds.

They both agreed that raising taxes would only offer a short-term solution, and that taxing working people to pay for retirees isn’t fair. And while a National Insurance surcharge payable by those over 40 makes sense over the longer-term – what about the here and now?

At the moment, property equity owned by the over-65s amounts to around £1.7 trillion. Damian suggests that by finding a way to leverage this wealth, the Government could go some way to helping alleviate pressures on the current system.

If we delve a bit deeper, what we’re seeing is £1.7 trillion worth of property that could be released onto the property market – boosting housing stock.

…delivering solutions

Clearly, finding a sustainable way to look after an ageing population is not as simple as telling everyone over 60 to sell up and downsize. And statistically speaking, only one in five of us will need support from assisted living. Where’s the incentive?

We’ve thought hard about the answers and believe our investment and holistic approach to the creation of retirement villages shines a light on a possible solution.

It’s well-documented that residents living in retirement communities suffer fewer accidents and spend fewer days in hospital. With communal facilities, we also tackle the increasing loneliness and isolation that many older people feel.

The general retirement home market represents just 2% of the total UK property market. Those that do exist don’t necessarily reflect how people want to live – even though 25% of over-60s would be interested in buying one, which is why Octopus Healthcare stands out.

Time for action, time for change

As someone who’s passionate about delivering quality retirement living, for me, the time for change is now. This is the perfect opportunity for Octopus Healthcare to challenge the status quo and provide tangible solutions that the government’s anticipated green paper on social care could reflect.

At Octopus Healthcare, we put people first and work collaboratively with political parties to support their plans. It’s time to focus on aligning social care and housing policies that enable us to invest in a future that we can all be proud of, for generations to come.

Written by Kevin Beirne, Retirement Director