Report sets out urgent need to build for baby boomers

Residents in an over-55s develoopment by McCarthy and Stone.
Residents in an over-55s develoopment by McCarthy and Stone.
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Think tank has ideas on how to boost the supply of homes for our ageing population

This week’s Policy Exchange report, Building for the Baby Boomers, has a host of recommendations on how to boost the supply of homes for our ageing population.

These include:

*Government should remove the two per cent stamp duty band, which is levied on those buying homes between £125,000 and £250,000, for older homeowners looking to move home. This will free up family-size houses.

*The growing number of older people renting privately, which is projected to be a third of all retirees by 2040, demands greater attention from government.

*More consideration should be given to how older renters without adequate retirement savings are supported by the state in later life.

*Government and local authorities should look to attract more institutional investment into the retirement housing sector and this should be directed towards private rental housing.

*Local authorities should consider exempting rental retirement schemes, where profit levels tend to be lower but where need is only going to increase, from the need to provide capital finance upfront as part of their planning obligations.

*The planning system should be used as a vehicle to encourage new models for retirement housing. For example: Exempting retirement housing developers from financial obligations faced by mainstream developers would help them compete more effectively in the land market and could result in higher delivery of housing.

Government should encourage local authorities to waive planning obligations when the development provides a suitable amount of housing for the intermediate retirement market.

*In its forthcoming Social Care Green Paper, government should acknowledge the perception that local authorities face a financial disincentive when the number of older people living in their area increases. This discourages them from approving new retirement housing schemes.

*Local authorities should be encouraged to review the need for specialist housing for older people across all tenures as part of the housing market assessment that informs their local plans.

McCarthy & Stone, which develops and manages retirement communities, has welcomed the report.

Gary Day, Group Land and Planning Director of McCarthy & Stone, said: “We support the recommendations made by Policy Exchange. Retirement communities have a hugely positive impact on the well-being of older people, allowing them to live happier and healthier lives. Yet moving costs, particularly stamp duty, are holding them back. About 2.6 million people would be encouraged to move if there was a downsizing exemption, freeing up housing supply for families and first-time buyers, and reducing the state’s social care burden.

“There is also an urgent need to build more suitable housing that meets the different needs of those in retirement. Despite demand, only about 162,000 retirement properties have ever been built for older homeowners, which is woeful.

“Planning policy is largely silent on the housing needs of older people. If the right policies and incentives were introduced, and the financial obligations and regulatory challenges faced by retirement developers addressed, supply could increase from around 6,000 homes a year currently to 20,000 to 30,000 units a year.”