Old people ‘rattling around’ in houses that are too big for them will be encouraged to downsize, the housing minister said yesterday.
Chris Pincher told the House of Lords that almost four in ten properties are ‘under-occupied’ and could be better used by younger families with children.
He also stated that the Government is keen for housebuilders to make more developments for pensioners. This will free up space in semis, which in turn will open up more places to first-time buyers.
Chris Pincher (pictured) told the House of Lords there was ‘an opportunity for downsizing, promote the growth of later living sector, in order to free homes in the middle of market’
His comments to the Lords’ built environment committee come amid increasing concern that young people are unable to get on the housing ladder due to soaring prices and a huge shortage of suitable properties.
Although the Government has promised to build 300,000.00 homes per year, its radical plans to do this by shaking up planning are being resisted by Tory politicians as well as wealthy voters.
Mr Pincher was asked by Baroness Bakewell, former ‘tsar for the elderly’, what thought was being given to the increasing numbers of older people who may wish to downsize.
He replied: ‘The challenge is that in the early 1990s, something like 31 per cent of properties were under-occupied: They were too big for the numbers of people rattling around inside them.
Old people ‘rattling around’ in houses that are too big for them will be encouraged to downsize, the housing minister said yesterday
“And now that percentage is 38 percent. So it’s a very significant number of properties where we see under-occupation.’
He continued: ‘So I think there is an opportunity to encourage downsizing, encourage the growth of the later living sector in order to free up homes in the middle of the market, those two, three-bedroom semis, so that those properties can be moved into.
‘If you open up a three-bedroom semi for occupation, two or three steps back in the chain, you’re very likely to open up a first time buyer property.’
Mr Pincher said measures to tackle the problem include a stipulation that one in ten properties built under the Government’s £11.5billion Affordable Homes Programme must be ‘specialist or adaptable, which includes later life’.
But he was warned by peers that the ‘punitive’ levels of stamp duty that must be paid by buyers are preventing older people from selling their large homes – downsizing has come to an end in some areas of London.
The minister replied: ‘I’m keen to make sure that we look at all the barriers that exist.’