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Older people face PRS crisis, shows report

Retirement / iStock: 682635080

A report by a group of MPs and peers has warned that unaffordable rents could cause a surge in pensioner poverty over the next 20 years.   

The Rental Housing for an Ageing Population report suggests that the number of pensioners in the private rented sector (PRS) could more than treble to around 1.5 million in the decades to come.

The report forecasts that, in terms of quality of accommodation, the number of older disabled households living in unfit and unsuitable private rented accommodation could leap from around 56,000 to 188,000 in 20 years’ time and to 236,500 in 30 years’ time.

As people’s incomes halve after retirement, and because tenants in the PRS currently pay 40 per cent of their earnings in rent, they could be forced to spend up to 80 per cent of their income on rent in retirement.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Care for Older People has called on the incoming prime minister to prioritise low-cost rented housing to protect the pensioners of tomorrow.

Analysis for the APPG inquiry by the Social Market Foundation think tank shows that by 2038, if private sector rents rise at the same rate as earnings, more than 630,000 older people households might struggle to afford to stay in their homes and could be forced to move.

The inquiry estimates that 1.1 million low-cost rented homes will be needed to adequately house older people by the late 2040s – an average of 38,000 homes a year. The report makes a series of recommendations for government and social housing providers, and puts forward reforms that are needed in the PRS.

Lord Richard Best, who chaired the APPG’s inquiry, said: “We urgently need a national strategy for renting in later life. This must include a plan to build more low-cost rented homes, and a programme of investment in care and support to prevent a housing catastrophe for the pensioners of the future.

“Social housing providers are the key players in this. But their current programme of around 3,000 homes a year for older people will be not be enough even to help the existing social housing tenants who need to downsize in older age – and release family homes for the next generation.

“I hope our report will alert government, planners, housing associations and housebuilding councils to the vastly greater numbers of older people for whom low-rent, secure accommodation will be needed by our ageing population in the years to come.”

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