Older residents '˜should divide their homes' to ease crisis that has driven a wedge between generations

THE HOUSING crisis is driving a 'geographic wedge' in two key Yorkshire cities between the older and younger generations, according to a think-tank.
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Those behind the report said a rise in “age segregation” amid a lack of suitable and affordable homes in Leeds and Sheffield has been hugely damaging to society, weakening the bond between different age groups.

And in a potentially controversial move, they suggested that older generations should be offered help to subdivide their existing houses, to foster “greater intergenerational living”, along with the building of more homes suitable for downsizing.

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Across England and Wales, the number of neighbourhoods in which half the population is aged over 50 has surged since 1991, the research from the Intergenerational Foundation (IF) found.

Leeds and Sheffield, along with Cardiff, Brighton, Nottingham and Southampton, were identified by the report as age segregation “hotspots”.

In 1991 there were just 65 such neighbourhoods. This had increased to 485 by 2014, 60% of which were rural, the report said.

Within urban areas, older people, children and young adults are also living increasingly separately, according to the research.

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“The housing crisis is driving a geographic wedge between the generations,” the research said.

“It means that older and younger generations are increasingly living apart.”

The report identified Cardiff, with its large student population, as “the most age segregated city in England and Wales”.

Surging house prices and a lack of choice for buyers have meant many people in the younger generation have had to cast their nets wider in the search for a home they can afford. Many people are also forced to move to particular places to find suitable work.

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Younger generations have become renters when they would rather be owners, while older generations face a last-time buying crisis due to a general lack of supply and a lack of affordable suitable accommodation to downsize into, the report said.

Angus Hanton, IF co-founder said: “Just five per cent of the people living in the same neighbourhood as someone under 18 are over 65, compared to 15 per cent in 1991. This is hugely damaging to intergenerational relations. It weakens the bonds between the generations, and leads to a lack of understanding of, and empathy for, other generations.”

Nigel Wilson of Legal & General, which supported the research, added: “We have created an intergenerationally unfair society. We need to take bold steps to reverse the negative trends of the last 30 years.

“This will involve not only an increase in housing supply of 100,000 a year of all tenures, but also a step up in investment in modern infrastructure.”

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The Department for Communities and Local Government said nearly 900,000 homes had been built since the end of 2009.

A spokesman said: “We’ve also set out the largest housebuilding programme since the 1970s, doubling the housing budget so we can build a million extra homes.”