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Elderly can help solve the housing crisis, housebuilder says

Words: Laura Edgar

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone has said that those aged 65 and over hold the key to unlocking the housing crisis and helping younger people to get onto the housing ladder.

The firm’s Retirement Confidence Index (RCI), produced in conjunction with YouGov, suggests that 60 per cent of under 30s believe that the UK needs more “later homes” for older people, while 50 per cent say they need financial assistance from family to buy a home.

It found that 70 per cent of over 65s think a greater focus is needed on providing suitable housing for older people.

An extra two million homes could be freed up if people downsized rather than remaining in larger homes, with 35 per cent of over 65s saying they would consider moving. This represents 4.1 million pensioners, McCarthy & Stone said.

According to the survey, the biggest burdens for younger people’s finances are:
 Over 65sUnder 30s
High house prices70%60%
High cost of living22%54%
Low wages22%45%
High deposit requirement for a home48%39%

Building more retirement homes would see such homes freed up for first-time buyers and young families.

Government schemes though, such as Help to Buy and the Stamp Duty relief introduced in the 2017 Autumn Budget, focus on first-time buyers. Of those who responded to the survey, 38 per cent said they felt first-time buyers are priorities over the needs of older people.

Of those under 30 that took part in the survey, 51 per cent said they would need financial support from family in order to buy a property.

Clive Fenton, chief executive at McCarthy & Stone, commented: “Both older and younger people see the benefits in providing better housing options for our ageing population. Millions of older people are looking for properties better suited to their needs, and young people are desperately trying to join the housing ladder. By providing more suitable housing, such as bungalows, retirement housing or other well-designed accommodation for later life, we can address a big part of the housing crisis.”

While he said the company understands the government’s focus on helping young people to buy a home, if it “is really serious about solving the housing crisis”,it has to recognise that helping older people to downsize to free up under-occupied property has to be a “significant” part of the solution.

McCarthy & Stone believe there are a number of ways to increase the supply of suitable housing for older people, including a one-off stamp duty exemption for older people when downsizing or moving into retirement housing. Reform of the planning system to encourage greater development in this sector is another option.

* The YouGov survey included a nationally representative sample of 3,000 UK adults aged over 65 and 700 adults aged under 30.

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