London Rebuilding Society has relaunched its Home Improvement Scheme for homeowners aged over 55s, meaning elderly homeowners can get assistance to improve their homes and their health, thus reducing their need for NHS and care support.
The scheme provides homeowners with access to grants, guaranteed quality works from vetted contractors, access to full market financial advice and a unique lifetime mortgage developed with LRS.
LRS aims to help 1,900 people – based on two older people per house – over the next five years. It will start in the South of England and plans to take the project nationwide.
It is well established that improving homes can have a positive impact on health and care. A King’s Fund publication from March 2018 found that the cost of poor housing to the NHS is £624m a year for households aged 55 and over.
The main features of the scheme include: no upfront costs or fees, continued full ownership of home, no monthly payments, a full-time client relationship manager, project management for the works, a six-year defects warranty on the house and the money only repayable upon death, sale or going into care.
In its report on poverty and housing last year, social justice organisation The Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggested that better equity release options for older, vulnerable people could prove beneficial.
It said: “The equity held by these households dwarfs the sums required for maintenance, so greater access to equity loans could prove beneficial.
“Equity release as a financial product is growing in popularity and is both heavily regulated and also very strongly consumer facing.
Expected in autumn 2019, the long-awaited Green Paper on Social Care will include this in its deliberations, and its authors have welcomed LRS’s Home Improvement Scheme as an exemplary approach.