The paper, Generation Stuck: Exploring the Reality of Downsizing in Later Life, published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC) called for a number of policy reforms to encourage downsizing later in life, with a particular focus on adequacy, affordability and awareness.
Rather than focusing the debate on downsizing, the report said the debate should shift to ‘rightsizing’ by looking at the opportunities for people to align their living situation with a property that best suits their needs.
The report also pointed out that it was important to steer the blame away from older households as the ‘primary culprit’ for the housing issues that younger borrowers face, which it said distracted from exploring and implementing effective solutions.
Instead, the ILC said the issue could be resolved by giving retirement housing a classification exempting it from a range of planning restraints, while allocating land for older people’s housing which could reduce the cost of land and subsequent unit costs of properties.
According to findings published in the report, specialist retirement housing could help to free up a larger housing market, with nearly 3.5 million older people interesting in downsizing and buying a retirement property.
In addition to suggesting that Help to Buy be extended to older buyers, the ILC also suggested that older households should be exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax when they downsize or move into specialist retirement housing, while also including financial support for ‘later-life buyers’.
Similarly, the report suggested that advice and guidance could play a vital role in increasing older households’ awareness of the options available to them.
It said: “…Choice must remain at the heart of the debate – and it is clear that not enough choices exist – but we need to ensure that people have comprehensive information, guidance, and advice so they can truly examine the balance of benefits that downsizing in later life can provide them.”