Could homeshares be the solution to making Britain less lonely?
The number of Britain’s elderly who consider themselves lonely is worryingly high, with a report by Age UK finding over one million people who’d describe themselves as such. Many of these people live alone in large houses containing spare rooms that could be rented out.
Contrastingly, there are a lot of people desperate for affordable and suitable accommodation. Intergenerational living could be the answer to both problems.
Our partner in the social housing team, Gary Ekpenyoung, discusses the intergenerational living model and the benefits it holds:
Homeshare is an intergenerational living model that has established itself as an alternative to residential care and home visits. An agreement is made between an older person and another party, that gives the latter rent-free accommodation as long as the former is provided with companionship and support.
Loneliness, and the mental health issues associated with it, puts a large amount of strain on the NHS. The Homeshare approach could lessen this strain, through reducing loneliness and isolation, and allowing people to stay out of residential care for longer.
There is also no need for concerns surrounding the generational gap, as an interviewing and vetting process matches people based on personality, so that the relationship is mutually beneficial.
Almost 500 UK households are now embracing intergenerational living, but the Tenant Fees Act 2019, which received Royal Assent on 12 February 2019 could potentially cause a few hurdles. The legislation stops lettings agents charging excessive fees to their tenants, a positive goal, but one that could put Homeshare agreements in danger, as money is exchanged to cover admin and matching costs. This could lead to income drying up for Homeshare UK – part of Shared Lives Plus – the network managers for Homeshare.
Thankfully, Homeshare has secured Government support and recent amendments to the Tenant Fees Act have limited the impact of the Act on Homeshare schemes.
The combination of an aging population and ever-increasing rental costs has brought the value of Homeshare to the forefront. Intergenerational living is a solution to a multi-generational problem.