The measures are part of a series of calls to action for government and regulators to enable older people to potentially use property wealth to support their household finances.
As part of its Beyond bricks and mortar: the changing role of property in later life financial plans report, the ERC proposes that a cross-party later-life commission should be established.
This would “help meet the long-term needs of people in later life, including via the potential uses of property wealth and balancing intergenerational needs.
“Understanding the role of housing wealth is a core component to any care funding solution across generations – the great challenge of our age”.
It added that the new prime minister should establish a cross-departmental minister for the elderly, “who can ensure the broader social and financial issues important to the ageing population are recognised and co-ordinated across all relevant departments”.
The ERC also argued that broader expansion of the equity release market can play an important role in addressing major social issues and so contended that it should “receive government support to ensure a cohesive and sustainable role in society”.
Education and guidance
Education and guidance about later life planning must start early from the age of 45, the ERC added, “to boost financial confidence while encouraging a long-term view and taking all assets into account”.
Other issues raised include regulatory stakeholders working with industry to demystify the market, whether protections such as guaranteed independent legal advice would have a broader benefit in the later life market beyond equity release, and the need for industry to keep reinventing itself as an enabler for people to realise their financial goals.
Alongside the report supported by Key, the ERC commissioned research of 2,503 UK homeowners aged 45 or older.
It found that 44 per cent felt taking out a mortgage or loan to access property wealth in later life was becoming a more common way to manage money, while 40 per cent saw it as a reality of ageing.
Only 34 per cent felt they had no need to consider this option either now or in future, including just 30 per cent of those aged 45-64.
Property wealth made-up 40p in every £1 of over-65s’ wealth and 47p among over-75s, it added.
Half of homeowners aged 45 or older see money invested in property as part of their later life financial plans, with those aged 45-64 most likely to agree to this.
Changing attitudes to property
Equity Release Council chairman David Burrowes (pictured) noted the ageing population and changing retirement landscape meant people were increasingly thinking of property as a multi-purpose financial asset.
“Property is often a person’s single largest asset and makes a significant contribution to homeowners’ personal finances as well as providing a place to live,” he said.
“Changing attitudes to property are significant given the financial challenges facing our ageing population as they seek to live longer, healthier lives.”
He added: “Our calls to action are underpinned by the core belief that – while drawing on property is not right for every circumstance and should not distract from encouraging long-term saving – it should be on every homeowner’s checklist to consider in later life, now more than ever.
“We urge industry and policymakers to evolve their thinking to reflect that of older homeowners to support this emerging demand.”
Will Hale, CEO of Key, noted that historically, people have seen their house as a home and potentially as an inheritance to pass on to the next generation.
“This report clearly highlights that not only is that perception changing but, given the increasing pressures on retirement finances, that it has to change,” he said.
“With pension savings failing to keep up with the increase in longevity, the vast majority of people will need to carefully consider how they maximise all their assets in retirement.
“This report and its recommendations clearly highlight not only the potential benefits that housing equity can bring to older homeowners, their families and the nation as a whole but the size of the challenge that we are facing.”