There could be a retirement housing gap of 160,000 houses by 2030 if more isn’t done to focus on last time buyers, according to new research by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK).

The think tank has called on the Government to ensure thousands of new retirement properties are built as a matter of urgency, and to require Local Authorities to assess the needs of their older populations when making housing plans.

The ILC-UK also found that those in retirement housing are significantly more likely to be living in homes with adaptations. Approximately 87% of those in retirement housing have home adaptations, compared to around 60% in other types of housing.

Therefore, as well as freeing up a range of properties throughout the housing market, downsizing in later life could help to ensure more people can stay in their homes for longer, reducing pressure on the residential care sector, says the think tank.

Surveys conducted by the ILC-UK revealed a variety of reasons why older people choose not to downsize. One key reason is the lack of suitable housing on the market, while a second is the financial cost of moving home.

“The Housing Minister is right to recognise that meeting the needs of last time buyers and encouraging downsizing is crucial to addressing the housing crisis,” commented Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive, ILC-UK. “Downsizing can also ensure that older people live in properties that allow them to stay in their own homes for longer, and can release equity that can be used to fund social care in later live.”

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