Downsizing

A recent report has indicated that not enough is being done to assist the older generation to downsize their homes in their retirement years.

It appears that currently there are 15 million surplus bedrooms in the UK. 10 million of these bedrooms are in homes occupied by people of 65 years and older. It is predicted that with an ageing population these numbers will increase so that in 20 year’s time the number of surplus bedrooms in home is occupied by retirees well exceed 12 million.

One of the major problems is that there are only 7000 new homes being built each year with the over 65 age group in mind. With the over 65 population increasing by a further 180,000 each year, one can see that not enough is being done to help with any downsizing exercise.

There has been little incentive from any government to promote the benefits of downsizing and to make that option attractive. The government needs to get creative so that a sensible plan can be put in place and all efforts are co-ordinated. That should include siting properties close to existing local facilities, building properties nearer to family and friends, and close to shops and recreation facilities. It is not seen by many retirees as an attractive proposition to live on the edge of town where it is difficult to get transport and where one can easily be isolated from friends, family and these facilities. Reducing or eliminating stamp duty for elderly downsizers might also help.

One would have thought it would make great good sense for any government to have a minister for the elderly. That would enable a designated government department to coordinate housing needs and make downsizing high on any agenda.

Otherwise there will be little incentive for people getting increasingly old and possibly infirm to bother to move house with all that involves. Instead they are more likely to take out a loan on the equity in their homes. That will enable them to carry out home improvements, and have a comfortable lifestyle for so long as they remain living in their large homes. That will, however, tie up larger properties and make them unavailable for families who have a need of them.

Time will tell whether this government will step up to the plate and do what is necessary to free up larger houses and at the same time provide very good quality smaller homes for the elderly. Downsizing is not yet the no-brainier younger people think it ought to be for elderly people living in homes with surplus bedroom capacity.

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