The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has launched an inquiry into whether the housing on offer in England for older people is sufficiently available and suitable for their needs.
Recent research has shown pensioners as stuck in oversized properties worth £820bn.
The CLG Committee’s inquiry is launched to a backdrop of significant housing shortages, rising numbers of older people, pressures on adult social care and with just 2% of the country’s housing stock designed with pensioners in mind.
Committee chair Clive Betts MP said: “Many pensioners may be interested in downsizing, but many are restricted from doing so by a lack of suitable options.
“As a Committee we want to examine what government and local authorities can do to help expand housing supply for older people and ensure pensioners can live independent and fulfilling lives.
“Given the rising number of older people in England, there appears to be a glaring hole both in the housing market and in the way that authorities plan for the housing needs of older people.
“Getting this right could help to ease the housing shortage and improve wellbeing and reduce isolation for older people”.
Government efforts to boost home building and home ownership focus on first time buyers and younger generations.
But, as the cost of social care cripples councils, the case is made for boosting the delivery of specialist retirement housing – freeing up homes currently under-occupied by older people.
Official data shows that 8.1m properties, or 35% of all homes in the country, are ‘under-occupied’, which is defined as having at least two spare bedrooms.
The Legal & General and Centre for Economic and Business Research study – published in June 2015 – claimed that if all of the 3.3m over-55s who are looking to downsize could find suitable homes, the shift would unlock 18% of the country’s property market, worth £820bn.
Households headed by someone aged 65 or over are projected to increase by 155,000 per year, about three quarters (74%) of total household growth up to 2039.
The committee is seeking evidence – to be submitted via its website by Friday, March 24 – on the following points:
- The adequacy of provision of homes for older people and the challenges people face in accessing housing which meets their needs
- The adequacy of current planning policy and government initiatives in England in meeting the housing needs of older people
- Whether more housing designed specifically for older people could help address England’s wider housing needs
- The extent to which improving specialist housing provision in England could improve people’s health and wellbeing, and deliver savings in public expenditure
- The availability of finance to help older people ‘right size’ in retirement, and the impact of the cap on housing benefit from April 2017 on the development of specialist housing
- Whether a national strategy for the support of housing provision specifically for older people is needed.
The committee is expected to begin the public evidence sessions for this inquiry in April.
BACKGROUND – STATS
In June 2015, Legal & General and the Centre for Economic and Business Research published a study that quantified the size of Great Britain’s ‘Last Time Buyer’.
This study found that there are 3.3 million last-time buyer households across Great Britain, with a combined 7.7m spare bedrooms – equivalent to 2.6 million three bedroom houses.
The study found that properties owned by LTBs are worth a total of £820bn or 18% of GB’s property market, and is projected to reach £1.2 trillion in value by 20203.
Households headed by someone aged 65 or over are projected to increase by 155,000 per year, about three quarters (74%) of total household growth up to 2039 according to DCLG housing statistics.