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The Old Story - agents tell government to make it easier to downsize

There’s a rising number of over-65s but a short supply of suitable affordable properties for them, Propertymark has told government.

The agents’ trade body says there must be a greater focus on building new homes for older people and policies to help them right-size.

Office for National Statistics figures show over 65s comprise 18.65 per cent of the population, which will rise to 21.8 per cent by 2030.

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Meanwhile housing for older people is scarce with just five per cent of over 65s living in specialist housing.

Propertymark believes the lack of housing options for older people, combined with policies that discourage them from moving, is prompting many to stay put in unsuitable – and often under-occupied – homes.

Eleanor Bateman, policy and campaigns officer at Propertymark, 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 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.”

Propertymark says the building of new bungalows remains low, with just shy of 2,000 bungalows built in 2020 – just 1.57 per cent of all homes – compared to 26,000 in 1987.

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