On Wednesday 22nd November, Chancellor Philip Hammond will take centre-stage in the House of Commons to deliver his first Autumn Budget. While the initial shockwaves that followed the general election have settled somewhat, the government’s commitment to deliver on the housing shortage should not be forgotten. We still have a severely inadequate number of suitable properties to meet the demands of an ageing population which needs to be addressed. And fast.
“It is predicted that by 2037 there will be a 70% increase in the over 65 age group, yet the UK’s housing market is nowhere near prepared to meet growing demand from first-time buyers, let alone to deliver retirement properties. For good reason, incentives are focused on this bottom end of the market, but it’s a blinkered focus and continues to ignore where much of the greatest potential in the market sits: the over 65s.
“There have been whispers of plans to release land owned by public bodies for further housing stock. Competition for sites is ever increasing so, without a particular focus on housing for older people, delays to building will simply continue as potential developments are thwarted. The Chancellor needs to put in place planning covenants that will address this and support the development of quality retirement property, with land to be allocated accordingly and greater support within local planning rules.
“Rumours have also been rife that the Government is considering a Stamp Duty cut for first time buyers when they purchase their first homes. This would save first time buyers thousands of pounds on the purchase of their first homes, but supporting demand will also naturally accelerate the need to build more homes and in reality, there are houses already available which could be released to the market. We would hope to see stamp duty exemptions to help older buyers downsize; a move that would be far more cost neutral in the long-term as more people come onto the housing ladder. Two in five UK homes are under-occupied, of which half are occupied by those aged 50 to 69, in the main due to lack of quality accommodation for them to move into.
“It’s time to address the facts: if we truly want to kick-start movement in the market, we need to stop continually plastering over the cracks and invest in quality housing options for the older generation.”