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Housing for older people

Monday 20 March 2017

NAEA Propertymark has responded to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government (CLG) inquiry, looking at the shortage of suitable housing for over 55’s in the UK.

As a response to the rising numbers of older people and increasing pressures on adult social care, the Government intends to look at whether more housing designed specifically for older people could help address England’s wider housing needs.

Just 2% of the country’s housing stock has been designed with pensioners in mind and with the number of over 85’s in Britain set to double by the year 2030, boosting the delivery of specialist retirement housing would free up homes currently under-occupied by older people.

Official data show that 8.1 million properties, or 35 per cent of all homes in the country, are “under-occupied”, which is defined as having at least two spare bedrooms.

NAEA Propertymark believes underoccupancy is a key element of the challenge, with under occupied homes accounting for a staggering 69% of housing in England and Wales.

One of the main barriers for older people and pensioners looking to relocate is the lack of suitable choices. The inquiry plans to look at the adequacy of provision of homes for older people and the challenges people face in accessing housing which meets their needs.

Furthermore, as outlined in the Housing 2025 Report, Legal & General commissioned a report which found that when last time buyers were looking for a new home, the most common preferences were being close to their family (32 per cent), being near to their current neighbourhood (18 per cent), having easy access to health care (16 per cent) and being close to shops (10 per cent).

With just 106,000 purpose-built owned retirement homes in Britain, the current planning policy and Government initiatives in England in meeting the housing needs of older people is not adequate.

One solution would be to provide an incentive for older people to sell up. NAEA Propertymark supports the idea of making the prospect of downsizing more attractive to last time buyers and encourages the development of more suitable properties.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"Many pensioners may be interested in downsizing, but many are restricted from doing so by a lack of suitable options. As a Committee, we want to examine what Government and local authorities can do to help expand housing supply for older people and ensure pensioners can live independent and fulfilling lives.

"Given the rising number of older people in England, there appears to be a glaring hole both in the housing market and in the way that authorities plan for the housing needs of older people. Getting this right could help to ease the housing shortage and improve well-being and reduce isolation for older people".

Mark Hayward, CEO of NAEA Propertymark, said:

“This is an issue that will affect us all at some point in our lives. Under occupation of current stock is an issue and the Government need to ensure that they are building the right types of homes in the right places.

“We think there are things that the Government can do, such as reforming stamp duty and providing bonds. Additionally, we are continuing to work with the law society to improve the transparency around event fees.

“This is an important inquiry and we are pleased to contribute views on behalf of our members.” 

Read our full response