Housing for older people inquiry launched

02 February 2017

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. The inquiry follows research which indicates pensioners are stuck in oversized properties worth £820bn.

The 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. 

Lack of option to downsizing

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, 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 well-being and reduce isolation for older people".  

Need for specialist housing

Government efforts to boost home building and home ownership focus on first time buyers and younger generations. However, some argue that boosting the delivery of specialist retirement housing would free up homes currently under-occupied by older people. Official data show that 8.1m properties, or 35pc 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 18pc 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 per cent) of total household growth up to 2039.

Send a written submission

The Committee is seeking evidence, to be submitted via its website by Friday 24 March 2017, 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

Send a written submission via the Housing for older people inquiry page 

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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