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Council-run sheltered housing "may not fully meet tenants' needs" authority admits

PUBLISHED: 15:51 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:04 29 August 2019

Cumberland Towers is oen of Ipswich Borough Council's 15 sheltered housing schemes that will be reviewed: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Cumberland Towers is oen of Ipswich Borough Council's 15 sheltered housing schemes that will be reviewed: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

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A review of Ipswich's sheltered housing is set to take place after the council admitted in a report that its provision may not be meeting people's needs.

Neil MacDonald said the council needed to better understand the needs of its tenants. Picture: IBCNeil MacDonald said the council needed to better understand the needs of its tenants. Picture: IBC

Ipswich Borough Council's latest housing strategy for 2019-24 has been updated to include its approach to housing for older people, the private rented sector and homelessness.

But the new plan, due for adoption by the council's executive next week, said: "It has been found that the current IBC sheltered accommodation offer may not fully meet the needs of all of its tenants, as IBC provides sheltered accommodation to a growing number of ageing tenants experiencing dementia, as well as other complex, multiple needs."

A survey was carried out by the council across both its sheltered housing and general needs tenants last year, which Labour portfolio holder for housing Neil MacDonald said identified that most people wished to remain in their homes.

"What we have found in recent years is that people want to stay in their houses and don't want to move into sheltered accommodation," he said.

Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher raised fears the issue was being kicked into the long grass. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCILIpswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher raised fears the issue was being kicked into the long grass. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

"People don't want to leave their houses they have lived in for decades and we found in general there is more space in sheltered accommodation than has been filled.

"What we are trying to do is look at what we can offer general needs tenants to help them stay in their homes for longer.

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"We have already done some work looking at sheltered housing but we need to look at can we do more to help people."

Currently the council's sheltered housing accommodation comprises 15 buildings totalling 555 homes, with a further 2,575 tenants over the age of 60 living in general needs council properties.

The council's action plan said it would undertake a thorough review of its sheltered housing and make recommendations for improvements, carry out more work on keeping those in general needs council houses independent and assess where assistive technology can be used.

Ian Fisher, leader of the council's opposition Conservative group, said: "A big concern in Ipswich is the lack of housing suitable for our increasing aged population.

"This then has a hugely damaging knock-down effect on tenures of housing more suited to younger families.

"We welcome the review into the council's sheltered housing schemes, it is essential that the council provides housing suitable to allow the elder members of our community to live in a comfortable environment.

"It is noted that there are over 2,500 council tenants over the age of 60 living in general needs properties.

"This number will only increase, and it is unfeasible to believe the council will be able to provide, or afford, the varying degrees of care and house adaptations mentioned in the report.

"We cannot ignore this growing problem and it is disappointing that there seems to be no extra focus on building or acquiring more capacity, such as with bungalows or dedicated assisted living projects within this strategy."

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