by Mark Johnston
Housing minister, Grant Shapps has proposed that local councils should encourage and enable older home owners to move in to more ‘suitable accommodation’, which would therefore allow their homes to be rented out to younger families and help the housing shortage.
Certain organisations for the elderly are ‘outraged’ at these proposals that mean elderly people are ‘pushed’ in to smaller homes in a bid to ease housing shortage.
As a generation for whom ‘doing ones duty’ is seen as vitally important it is inevitable that they will feel even greater pressure to do as they are asked and move out of the homes they have raised their families in.
Many people believe that for the government to tell older home owners, in a round about way, that they are a burden on society by taking up a house that could be used by a young family is unspeakably cruel.
Saga’s, Ros Altmann, believes ‘it is an insult to older people to suggest that councils should ‘take over’ their houses while they get shoved in to housing’ she also added that ‘older people will be horrified that their home could be deemed, by an official, to be not suitable for them’.
The older generation should not feel guilty about staying in their own homes especially when through out their lives they have cut back on spending in order to have their own property.
Andrea Rozario, of the trade body SHIP said of the proposal “there is likely to be a huge cost attached to it and older people may well want to consider downsizing, but on their own terms and with the ability to take the money immediately”.
The National Pensioners Convention has however asked the big question as to why the elderly in particular have been targeted to help solve the housing shortage, especially when it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that more homes are built.
Grant Shapps answered this question in a round about way by saying “older people who should be enjoying their homes have watched helplessly as their properties have become prisons and many have been forced to sell their homes and move into residential property”.
Some government analysis has shown that there are a huge number of elderly people that are considering moving, but who felt that they could not afford to.
Other experts believe that helping older people move to more suitable accommodation can make a ‘life changing’ difference. They can still live independently whilst also enjoying more disposable income, with out having to sell up their home.
However it is still wildly thought that instead of putting yet more pressure on the vulnerable elderly generation, the government should try to resolve the housing crisis by building more homes.
Research has shown that new builds are currently at their lowest levels in years; just 121,200 new homes were built in England in 2011 thus making it the fewest homes built since 1923.Yet the housing demand is still rising rapidly.
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