The Government has been urged to back a massive drive to build more retirement properties.
A study found that many people aged over 60 live in homes that are too big for their needs but would give them enough equity to move if they could.
Over half (58%) of those surveyed by think tank Demos said although they’d like to move into a smaller property they felt restricted by a chronic lack of suitable alternatives.
Not enough retirement homes for sale
Supported by the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the research found that while 3.5 million people aged over 60 were interested in buying a retirement home, just 100,000 were for sale.
And it found there was a particular need for more accommodation to cater for Britain’s growing number of over-85s, many of whom need on-hand care.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has asked councils to encourage the construction of more bungalows to house older people. But Demos says that does not go far enough, as the buildings are often located too far away from shops and other amenities and fail to provide the facilities and support needed by many.
It says if all those who wanted to were all able to move it would free up more than three million homes, including two million three-bedroom houses.
New homes must be ‘high quality, affordable and attractive’
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK, said: ‘We certainly badly need more retirement housing in this country and this could help to free up more family sized properties. The problem is the numbers of new retirement homes coming on stream are woefully inadequate for today’s older people, let alone tomorrow’s.
‘With an ageing population the gap between demand and supply for retirement housing is bound to grow unless something changes quite quickly.
‘But we don’t just need more retirement homes, we need them to be of consistently high quality, affordable and attractive, and in the right places.’
The HBF’s Housing In Later Life campaign, backed by broadcaster Esther Rantzen, is calling for planning rule changes to ensure older people’s needs are met.
Demos’s Top of the Ladder report says helping them move to more suitable homes would breathe new life into all parts of the housing market, including the lower end where many would-be first-time buyers are thwarted by soaring prices.
The report adds that releasing the equity held by older people could ease the poverty and financial problems many are facing, which would increase their spending power and boost the economy.
The think tank believes the move would contribute to an improvement in people’s health and wellbeing, helping health and care services make significant savings.
Retirement housing provides older people with their own home and front door while providing communal areas and facilities, as well as round-the-clock support.