Over-60s ‘should move somewhere smaller’

By politics.co.uk staff

Older people should be encouraged to downsize in order to help solve Britain's housing crisis, according to a new report out today.

The Intergenerational Foundation argues that ministers will have to take action to try to persuade more elderly people living in unnecessarily large houses to find somewhere smaller.

Doing so would open up more properties for young people struggling to get into the housing market, they argue. Today's report revealed there are now 25 million unoccupied bedrooms in British homes.

"It is perfectly understandable that retired people cling to their home long after it has outlived its usefulness as a place to bring up a family in," report co-author Matthew Griffiths said.

"But there are profound social consequences of their actions which are now causing real problems in a country where new house building is almost non-existent."

Under-occupation of housing has jumped by around 45% and is continuing to grow. It blames older people for living longer and staying in the family home, rather than downsizing, for the problem.

"The 'housing crisis' is increasingly an issue of how our housing stock is shared between younger and older generations," IF co-founder Angus Hanton commented.

"The divide between the housing 'haves' and 'have nots' has moved from being one dominated by wealth or class to one dominated by age."

Ministers could make it easier for older people to downsize by tweaking the tax system, the report suggests.

It recommends offering a stamp duty exemption for downsizing pensioners and proposes council tax should be replaced with a land tax that would reflect the 'social cost' of occupying housing that is larger than one's needs.