Older people 'hoard' family homes
England is in the middle of an intergenerational crisis in the housing market which is caused by older people not downsizing their homes, a new report argues.
The thinktank Intergenerational Foundation said that 16 million people live in underoccupied homes - equivalent to 37 per cent of the total housing stock in England - and there were 25 million empty bedrooms.
IF, which is a non-party political charity campaigning for the rights of “younger and future generations” in British policy making, said that the lifecycle of housing was “breaking down” as older people “hoarded” family homes.
The report says: ‘Whilst these older groups may think they are keeping an “asset” for future generations, the negative impact is felt primarily among the young who face higher lifetime levels of debt and smaller living space as a result.
‘The distribution of existing housing stock matters. The growth in new UK supply is extremely slow, at less than one per cent a year. It has also been characterised by the building of small properties.
‘The current housing crisis is not principally about Britain having enough housing but about the way it is shared between older and younger generations.’
The report also argued that there was an increasing generational imbalance in housing wealth and debt, with those who need property the least now being the group that holds the most.
The report says the impact on younger people is “politically destabilising” and puts forward a number of possible policy options to stop older people holding onto their home:
- Abolishing stamp duty for those downsizing
- Changes to planning rules to increase the supply of suitable housing for people downsizing
- “Nudge” policies such as the withdrawal of some “universal” benefits for those living in houses worth over £500,000
- A property value tax
- Abolition of council tax concessions for single occupation