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Government paper to promote elderly downsizing

Posted by Jennifer Jameson on February 2, 2017
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Recently there have been many measures put in place to help first- time buyers. Now, the government is expected to build upon this in their highly anticipated white paper on housing.

The white paper on housing is predicted to promote elderly homeowners downsizing. By encouraging elderly homeowners to downsize, larger homes will become available for the younger generations who may plan to have a family in the future. This would help towards solving the housing crisis by freeing up available stock and reducing the number of new homes needed to be built through government funding.

The English Housing Survey predicts that 7.2 million homeowners own their home outright and that 85% of these are aged over 55. Investment firm Prudential, who specialize in pensions and retirement planning, show figures that estimate 38% of homeowners in the UK are planning to downsize; however, many are put off by the lack of housing options and lack of assistance.

A recent survey conducted by Downsizing Direct, an online website helping older people to downsize, supports this theory. Their statistics show the 75% of enquirers aged 55-79 want assistance in selling, buying and moving to a smaller property. However, 24% are dissuaded by the lack of housing options; 19% by the cost of moving; 14% by having to de-clutter possessions; 14% due to family issues. Stephen Burke, Director of Downsizing Direct, states “Many older people want to move if they can find somewhere locally, close to friends, family and facilities. But we need developers, investors, planners and others to help make it happen – with government encouragement in the forthcoming white paper”.

To enable the elderly homeowners downsizing, many expect the proposals to include incentives to make downsizing more appealing. As far back as 2014 there have been proposals that stamp duty be abolished for homeowners over 65. A 2014 report by think tank, Demos, proposed a stamp duty exemption on downsizing into properties worth up to £250,000, which would make a move more appealing. This would help assuage the worry of many elderly homeowners, including the 38% surveyed by Prudential, who believe there is a lack of assistance from the government to help elderly homeowners downsize.

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