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14/08/2020

Three million older people in England ‘put off’ downsizing

Words: Huw Morris
Older people at home

The government should set a target of building 30,000 retirement properties a year after latest research reveals more than three million people in England are dissauded from downsizing.

The study by Homes for Later Living (pdf), a consortium comprising Churchill Retirement Living, McCarthy and Stone, and Lifestory Group with research by former Treasury economist Chris Walker, shows that 25 per cent of people aged 65 or over would like to move to a smaller home suitable for their needs.

Out of the 12.3 million people aged over 65 in England, around 3.1 million feel they have to “stay put” in their current homes. 

However, a lack of choice over suitable accommodation and the upheaval of moving deter them from doing so.

The trend is harming older people’s health and wellbeing while blocking first-time buyers and young families from accessing or ascending the property ladder, states the consortium. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, it contends, infection rates in “later living” properties were “significantly lower” than in the general over-65s population. 

The report urges ministers to allocate around 10 per cent of their annual housebuilding target and build 30,000 retirement homes. It argues that two in every three retirement homes delivered releases a home suitable for a first-time buyer. 

The addition of 30,000 of these homes a year would also encourage at least 60,000 additional house moves annually. Building 30,000 retirement properties, instead of the current 8,000 completions, would also yield up to £2.1 billion a year in savings for the NHS and social care services. 

If all those aged 65-plus who wish to move were able to do so, this would free up almost two million spare bedrooms, adds the consortium.

“Politicians have, to date, prioritised building more new homes for first-time buyers, which is of course important,” said Homes for Later Living chair John Slaughter. 

“But they are paying insufficient attention to the fact that we have an ageing population, many of whom want to move, and helping them do so would in turn bring major benefits for first-time buyers, creating a positive ripple effect across the whole housing market.”

Image credit l iStock

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