Long-term agenda needed for reform and linking housing, care and pensions

Affordable housing, accessible good-quality care and a decent pension: these are things to which people attach great value.

There is now a widely shared realisation that a series of reforms are needed in order to accommodate the pressure being exerted within each of these sectors by trends such as population ageing, individualisation and the economic recession. At the same time, proposals are increasingly circulating for establishing links between housing, care and pensions. For example, it should be made easier for people to use their pension capital to pay off their mortgage, or to use the equity in their home to buy in care. Pension funds should also be able to pay their members in the form of care or housing services. This could avoid excessive collective saving and at the same time contribute to greater financial resilience for individual households.

The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) will publish a book on this topic on 8 January 2013, entitled Wonen zorg en pensioenen. Hervormen en verbinden (‘Housing, care and pensions. Reform and linking’). The authors of the publication share the view that further radical reforms will be needed in the years ahead to ensure that housing, care and pensions not only remain affordable but also accessible and of adequate quality. The solidarity within and between population groups that underlies these systems is under pressure and will need to be recast in a different form in the coming decades. However, the opinions and recommendations of the authors diverge on the underlying objectives, direction and pace of the necessary reforms.

The publication shows that experiments are already under way in practice with forms of innovative and multidisciplinary service provision. At the same time, there are all manner of questions still to be resolved: how do the developments and innovations on the financial markets and the property market impact the care and housing sectors? How do people respond to new incentives and choices and what does this mean for the chances of success of the proposed measures? What can the Netherlands learn from experiences with reforms in other countries? In bringing out this publication, the WRR is seeking to make a contribution to the knowledge and public debate about reforming and bringing together housing, care and pensions.

Wonen, zorg en pensioenen. Hervormen en verbinden was prepared under the leadership of Dr. Wendy Asbeek Brusse and Professor Cor van Montfort in collaboration with the Knowledge & Investigations department of the Directorate-General for Housing and Construction at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. It was presented on 8 January 2013 to the State Secretary for Public Health, Welfare and Sport, Mr M. van Rijn, during the New Year meeting of the Centre for Governance of the Private Public-Sector Enterprise (CBMO) at TiasNimbas Business School, Tilburg University. The book was also presented to Stef Blok, Minister for Housing and Civil Service.