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Chancellor urged to use budget to address elderly housing shortage

All eyes will be on the budget next week to see if Chancellor George Osborne addresses the chronic housing shortage on the UK, especially for older people, says Peter Girling, Chairman of Girlings Retirement Rentals.

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) has called for government to abolish stamp duty for older people should they decide to downsize and purchase a smaller property. Enabling the over 65s to take such a tax break would make moving to a smaller property more appealing and help to free up family housing across Britain

Peter Girling comments: “We hope the Chancellor prioritises the housing needs of older people in the budget and whilst removing stamp duty to help them downsize is one option, we firmly believe that providing an adequate stock of appropriate purpose built retirement accommodation for rental on assured tenancies is a more workable solution. If older people were encouraged to rent in retirement, they could sell their homes and invest their capital to fund their retirement and even their care in the longer term. One in three babies born this year will live to 100 years old so the housing needs of an ageing population must be addressed urgently.”

“We welcome the government tackling the housing needs of older people however we also want to see the issue of supply of later life housing being taken seriously by all political parties as it is currently in chronic short supply.”

“The demand for specialist retirement housing is outstripping supply. We have thousands of new enquiries each year from people attracted by the affordability of renting and the availability of assured  (lifetime) tenancies; however, there are simply not enough retirement  properties to meet this demand, particularly in popular locations like London.”

We are members of the ‘Campaign for Housing in Later Life,’ led by the Home Builders Federation – a group which is lobbying government to increase the availability of appropriate homes for older people.

The group commissioned think tank Demos to undertake research into people’s housing needs in later life and revealed that four out of 10 over 60s in Britain want to downsize to a retirement property – that’s 3.5 million people nationally.

However, with just 500,000 specialist dwellings – 100,000 for home ownership and 400,000 available for rent in Britain, many are unable to make the move.

Last week, we attended a parliamentary committee where these issues were raised by the group and presented for debate before an audience of supportive MPs.

The campaign is calling for national and local government to support providers of housing in later life by:

– Strengthening national planning laws via the National Planning Policy Framework – Ensuring that local authorities include the housing needs of older people in their development plans, – Ensure the new development tax, the Community Infrastructure Levy, considers the viability issues associated with later life housing – Government amends the ‘Help to buy scheme’ to allow older people with affordability issues to qualify.

Peter Girling concludes, “It is early days in terms of the campaign and there is a lot still to be considered but we are hopeful that the wheels are in motion to improve the housing choices for older people. Now we can only wait to see if the Chancellor is listening to the industry on budget day.”

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