"The building of new homes is at its lowest levels since World War II and with rents and house prices remaining high, while mortgage lending is restricted; this has pushed homeownership out of the reach of many.
"New plans include mortgages of up to 95% of the value of new homes to be offered with government underwriting part of the risk, £400m public fund to help developers "unblock" stalled housing schemes, discounts for social tenants wanting to own their properties under the ‘right to buy’ scheme, more public sector land to be made available for building and up to £150m, to help bring empty housing back into use.
"But strikingly these measures are targeted at young people and families and seem to ignore the needs of older people at the other end of the housing market. Many elderly people no longer desire homeownership. They want to downsize. However, there is currently an acute shortage of appropriate retirement housing in the UK to buy or rent so why are no provisions being made for these people?
"This shortage of homes for older people has led to another problem. 8 million people currently live in under-occupied homes and many are older people. What’s more, this number has increased by 45% since 2003 because people are living longer and there aren’t enough suitable alternative properties available.
"Arguably, if a greater number of retirement properties were built and the government incentivised people to move into them, many of these ‘family homes’ would become available.
"So, before the government embarks on its huge and costly building campaign – I would urge some common sense and joined up thinking. This should start with a review of the number of empty and under-occupied properties and a strategy of providing quality retirement homes – only then will we get the market moving again!"
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