Election 2015: Has housing for older people been ignored?

Photo: Ralph Zuranski

As the UK goes to the polls today, housing has taken an increasingly frontline role in the political debate. While Labour has emphasised the Private Rental Sector, though, and the Conservatives have introduced the Help to Buy ISA, retirement home experts Girlings Retirement Rentals argue that housing for older people has been ignored/

“The main headline manifesto pledges include the Conservative’s extension of Thatcher’s right to buy for 1.3 million families in housing association properties; Nick Clegg’s pledge to double council tax for owners of second homes in rural beauty spots and Ed Miliband promising at least 200,000 new homes a year are built by 2020, with first priority for local first time buyers as well as promise of a ‘Mansion Tax’,” comments Peter Girling.

“Whilst some of these pledges have their merits, the failure of the three main leaders to discuss the shortage of retirement housing shows they are missing what is potentially going to be a huge problem for our ageing population.”

Girling argues that the shortage of appropriate and attractive retirement housing is preventing people from fulfilling their desire to downsize, which, in turn, is contributing to the lack of supply further down the ladder for buyers.

Think tank Demos, in its the “Top of the Ladder” report in 2013, stated there are 3.5 million people over 60 in the UK are interested in retirement housing but many are unable to move because of the shortage of supply.

Another report in January this year by Knight Frank found a quarter of homeowners aged 55 or over are likely to consider moving into retirement housing in the future, but many will be unable to downsize because of the “chronic” shortage of retirement properties.

Indeed, less than 3 per cent of housing in the pipeline is aimed at older people and yet, in 20 years’ time, those aged 65 or over will make up 23 per cent of the population.

“Whichever government gets in on 7 May, it’s clear that greater investment in house building for the retired is needed to provide more choice of high quality and attractive homes for people to buy or rent,” concludes Girling.

“Ignoring the facts won’t make them go away and it is a shame that the three main parties have failed to address what is a major housing issue in their election pledges.”