Downsizing ‘Put Off’ by Over Three Million Older People in England

A new study by Homes for Later Living, a consortium made up of Lifestory Group, McCarthy and Stone, Churchill Retirement Living and former Treasury economist Chris Walker, highlights that around 25 percent of people aged 65 and over would like to move to a smaller home suitable for their needs by downsizing.

Out of the 12.3 million people aged over 65 in England, around 3.1 million feel they have to “stay put” in their current homes. However, a lack of choice over suitable accommodation and the upheaval of moving deter them from doing so.

The trend is harming older people’s health and wellbeing whist simultaneously preventing first-time buyers and young families from accessing or ascending the property ladder. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it contends, infection rates in “later living” properties were “significantly lower” than within the general over-65s population. 

The report urges ministers to allocate around 10 per cent of their annual housebuilding target and build 30,000 retirement homes, arguing that two in every three retirement homes delivered releases a home suitable for a first-time buyer. 

The addition of 30,000 of these homes a year would also encourage at least 60,000 additional house moves annually. Building 30,000 retirement properties, instead of the current 8,000 completions, would also yield up to £2.1 billion a year in savings for the NHS and social care services. 

If all those aged 65 and over who wish to move were able to do so, this would free up almost two million spare bedrooms, adds the consortium.

Politicians have, to date, prioritised building more new homes for first-time buyers, which is of course important…

But they are paying insufficient attention to the fact that we have an ageing population, many of whom want to move, and helping them do so would in turn bring major benefits for first-time buyers, creating a positive ripple effect across the whole housing market.

John Slaughter, Homes for Later Living chair.

One way that we can ensure that the homes our 65 and over population live in address their specific needs is through a set of building standards, such as the Lifetime Homes scheme.  

The Lifetime Homes scheme emerged from the work developed in the late 1980s by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation Foundation and the Habinteg Housing Association, with the interest of providing housing needs for the disabled and the elderly. 

A Lifetime Home follows 16 design criteria that provide the absolute model for building accessible and adaptable homes.  From consideration of approach gradients, level entrance thresholds, through to the reinforcement of ceilings and walls to allow tracking hoist routes and handrails, Lifetime Homes are ideal for those with additional physical and sensory needs – as well as supporting our ageing population and their carers.  

We can support with these modifications by applying the principles of the Lifetime Homes scheme to new developments, as well as by the retro-fitting of current homes.  Contact us for more information.

At ethical partnership we are passionate about meeting the needs of our entire population through the Lifetime Homes scheme and hope that councils and housing associations consider them for new social housing. We can review designs, train builders, and undertake site audits. You can also visit our portfolio to find out more about specific projects we have worked on.

Contact us for more information and find us on LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with developments in the planning industry.

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