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October, 2021
Propertymark: Over 65s need homes to help solve housing crisis

Housing policies need to help the rising number of people aged over 65 move to suitable properties, says Propertymark.

The estate agents’ trade body says the government should have a greater focus on building new homes for older people for them to move into to help solve the country’s housing crisis.

There were more than 12.5 million people aged 65 and over in 2020, making up 18.7% of the population, which is set to rise to 21.8% by 2030, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The association says: “While a third of older adults have indicated they would like to move from their present home, housing for older people is scarce with just 5% of over 65s living in specialist housing.”

It adds that “the lack of housing options for older people, combined with government policies that discourage them from moving, is prompting many to stay put in unsuitable – and often underoccupied – homes”.

Just under 2,000 new bungalows were built last year – 1.6% of all homes – compared to 26,000 in 1987, according to figures from the National House Building Council’s new home statistics.

There are 730,000 retirement housing units across the UK up to June 2019, which makes up just 5% of the over 65s population, says the Elderly Accommodation Counsel.

The trade body adds: “Not only does this aggravate wider housing supply issues, but non-specialist homes can pose a serious health and safety hazard for older inhabitants, placing additional and unnecessary pressure on our health and social care systems.”

Propertymark policy and campaigns officer Eleanor Bateman says: “We need a housing mix that includes more specialist homes for older people, as well as appropriate incentives to right-size.

“Currently, older people aren’t inclined to move because government policies simply don’t facilitate it.

“When faced with a potentially significant stamp duty land tax bill – combined with other measures such as the nil rate residence band enabling tax savings – it is unsurprising that many older people choose not to move.

“Additionally, the lack of housing options means even those who would like to move often end up staying put because there just aren’t enough suitable, affordable properties for them in the housing market.

“This lack of supply, frequently coupled with service charges or event fees, exacerbates affordability issues further.

“If the UK government is serious about tackling the undersupply of housing in the UK it must rethink its tax policy which acts as a hindrance to market movement, and provide the housing for older people the country needs so our existing housing stock is utilised more efficiently, and right-sizing becomes an affordable and realistic option.”