Independent Think Tank, The Strategic Society Centre, and not-for-profit care and housing provider, Anchor, have partnered to put a figure on the economic impact of the lack of suitable homes for older people in the UK now and over the next 50 years.

The Valuing Retirement Housing report reveals how the lack of suitable retirement housing affects both older and younger generations.

The detailed analysis identifies three key economic factors and estimates a saving of £14.5bn to the public purse over 50 years if just one extra couple among every 50 older homeowners downsized into specialist retirement housing, enabling first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder. This amounts to long-term savings of between £675million and 2.6billion depending on the region.

Retirement property makes up just 2% of the country’s housing stock, yet almost two-thirds (63%) of people aged 55+ living in houses with more than two bedrooms are looking to downsize. (1)

A major reason for older people staying put is a lack of choice when it comes to moving to more age-appropriate housing. (2)

The three main costs to the public purse identified in the Valuing Retirement Housing report are:

  • The increased costs of health and care needs for older people living in inappropriate housing (including trips and falls) – estimated at £9,700 per person or £19,400 per couple
  • The impact of local authority social care entitlement – estimated at £18,600 per person or £37,200 per couple
  • The financial impact of younger people not being able to get on the housing ladder means they are unable to finance their later life without relying on local authority funding – estimated at £54,800 per individual or couple

Anchor’s Chief Executive Jane Ashcroft CBE believes everyone should be entitled to a safe, warm home that meets their needs: “The consequence of poor housing can be catastrophic and older people in particular can see their quality of life diminish. Those older people that do want to move shouldn’t be trapped due to a lack of suitable retirement homes. We have failed to address this as a country and for the first time the full impact has been analysed.

“The findings evidence a bigger picture many of us in the sector have suspected for some time – that the impact goes much wider than older people themselves.

“This is not a plea for financial support from the state, in fact this is an opportunity to save billions. With the ageing population growing all the time, we must prioritise homes for older people now.”

Anchor is calling on national government as well as local authority decision-makers to clear the path to enable retirement housing to be built, convene a national taskforce on retirement housing, and reform local planning to encourage more developments.

Download the full report Valuing Retirement Housing: Exploring the economic effects of specialist housing for older people, here

(1) Centre for Economics and Business Research, Last Time Buyers Report 2015: 

(2) Older people’s housing: choice, quality of life,and under-occupation: Report carried out by Jenny Pannell, Hannah Aldridge and Peter Kenway of the New Policy Institute. Comissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2012: 

View all