Log in | Register

‘Focus should be older homeowners to tackle housing crisis’

Words: Laura Edgar

The housing crisis won’t be solved by focusing solely on the needs of first-time buyers, says a think tank.

In a report for the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), Sir Michael Lyons, Caroline Green and Neal Hudson say that building and sustaining enough house building to meet the “chronic undersupply” requires action on all levels, not just a focus on younger people.

They said: “We might make faster progress in the helping these younger generations if we devote as much of our energies to meeting the housing needs and aspirations of their parents and grandparents.”

The authors call for more council commissioning of housing, a better rental offer for older people with secure tenancies, more shared ownership for older people, and greater choice.

The lack of new housing supply and the resultant increase in house prices has in turn resulted in housing wealth “becoming the principal driver of inequality in the UK”.

Providing a better choice of options for older people looking to downsize would “unlock substantial equity that could be made available to invest in new homes while releasing existing family homes into the market,” states the report.

Lyons said: “Finding ways in which local authorities can promote, support, finance and commission new homes will be critical to achieve the government’s house building targets and in ensuring greater commissioning of homes suitable for older people.”

He said the increased opportunities for self-build could also be an “attractive” option for those who have equity but feel there is a lack of choice to meet what they need.

Ben Franklin, head of economics of ageing at ILC-UK, added: “For more than a decade we have simply not been building sufficient homes to meet demand. This is having a detrimental impact on the livelihoods and wellbeing of people across all ages.”

He said supporting the housing needs of older people is “one important component” of a strategy to revitalise the nation’s housing.

The report is an extended version of a book chapter, which will be published by ILC-UK on 30 June. It can be downloaded here. 

Sir Michael Lyons chaired the Lyons Housing Review. Caroline Green is the assistant chief executive at Oxford City Council, and Neal Hudson is an associate director of Savills Residential Research - they both worked on the Lyons Housing Review.

Image credit | iStock