Older people wanting to downsize their homes should be helped to do so says Demos.
By downsizing their homes older people could be “freeing up” billions of pounds of housing stock according to Demos. A report funded by the Home Builders Federation says that people over the age of 60 own £1.28 trillion in housing stock.
It believes that more retirement homes are needed and if built will help others move up the housing ladder. A survey of 1,500 people aged over 60 for Demos found that 58% were interested in moving but felt restricted by a lack of suitable housing or a fear of moving to an unfamiliar environment. The report says that the government could help older people by cutting their stamp duty and council tax.
Author of the report, Claudia Wood deputy director of Demos has said: “Unlike in health or social care, the costs associated with overcoming the challenges of housing our ageing society are relatively small.
“The money for new housing is there already – locked up in over a trillion pounds worth of assets held by older people across the country. The majority of older people in three-, four- and five-bedroom homes want to downsize. Overcoming planning barriers to supply to meet this demand would benefit the economy, younger families stuck on the housing ladder and older people themselves.”
The report states that there is a “chronic undersupply” of specialist retirement housing for those aged over 80. This group is also increasing more rapidly than other groups. This is due to more than two-thirds of this group having long-term illness or disability.
“This increasingly old population may well need housing that offers care and support services on site,” the report says.
Michelle Mitchell, from Age UK, said: “We certainly badly need more retirement housing in this country and this could help to free up more family-sized properties.
“But we don’t just need more retirement homes, we need them to be of consistently high quality, affordable and attractive, and in the right places.”
The government says that homes for elderly people form part of its plans to invest in and encourage the building of more affordable homes. Recently it has been announced that a discount of council tax would be given for grandparent’s annexes or other family members.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: “It is essential that we build more homes or suitable accommodation for older people.
“That’s why new planning guidance makes clear that councils must plan positively for an ageing nation and ensure that enough suitable homes such as bungalows or assisted housing are available in their area.
“This is part of our wider efforts to get Britain building, investing billions towards delivering the fastest rate of affordable housebuilding for two decades – including £315m for homes designed to meet the needs of older people.
“Our plans to remove the family tax penalty on annexes and home improvements will also help more older people live independently.”