Retirement Villages’ trade association, ARCO, says the current provision of specialist retirement housing is ‘woefully inadequate’ and will remain so until local authority planning departments face the fact that the UK population of over 65s is set to reach 20 million by 2030 and action is needs to be taken now to address this.
ARCO, the Associated Retirement Community Operators, calls for policymakers to wake up to this major gap in future housing provision for older people.
The statement comes on the first anniversary of the ARCO formation. Established by leading operators across both the not-for-profit and private sectors to campaign for greater provision of specialist housing with care across the UK, the organisation has increased considerably in size and now represents more than 300 retirement communities across the UK – more than 50% of the UK retirement community market.
Jon Gooding, ARCO Chair, said: “The growth in ARCO’s membership during our first year shows the strength of support for these key issues affecting our elderly population. As we continue to strengthen our ranks, we will also strengthen our voice as we urge policymakers and planners not to rest on their laurels. To keep pace with the demand for good homes for older people we must push for more growth in specialist housing options that enable older people to lead active and fulfilled lives for as long as possible.”
ARCO has set an ambitious target to have 5% of older people living in retirement communities by 2030 and calls on planning departments to adopt a more consistent and positive approach to dealing with applications for specialist housing for older people. It says the current 40,000  units is a ‘drop in the ocean’ yet the over-65 population is set to reach 20 million by 2030 .”
ARCO was founded in 2012 to help solve the housing needs for the next generation of retirees who face multiple social problems such as unsuitable housing, high care costs and loneliness . ARCO members support residents to age in place in their homes in a retirement community by ensuring standards of homes are high and are equipped with necessary tools to prevent falls or injury, and by providing older people with activities and care on site.
 The Elderly Accommodation Counsel database estimates that there are 40,000 units in the UK with 24/7 support on site.
 The Opinium Research survey of 1,030 people aged over 65 conducted forARCO between 15th and 18th February 2013, found that British adults aged 65+ spend 66,406,400 of waking hours alone each day (based on an average of 6.4hours from the sample of 1000 UK adults aged 65+ x 10.4 million 65+ adults in the UK (ONS)