Row breaks out over issue of retirees downsizing in the UK

Older home owners in the UK should not be forced to downsize just to let the younger generation onto the housing ladder. Saga, a services and advice provider for people aged over 50, has hit out at remarks attributed the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial watchdog, that retired people should not continue living in properties that are too big for them. Lynda Blackwell, head of mortgages at the FCA, is reported to have told Ministers that they need to address the situation in the UK where retired people continue living in the family home once their children have left. She explained that the current housing shortage could be addressed by these so called ‘last time buyer’ moving to smaller properties to free up homes for people lower down the housing ladder. But Saga believes it is a form of bullying. ‘If people have saved and paid for their house over their working lives, it's down to them if they want to fill it with family or live on their own,’ said Saga’s director of communications, Paul Green. ‘But setting the generations against each other or talking about tackling older home owners is not just unhelpful it's insulting,’ he added. He explained that recent research carried out by Saga in association with Wadswick Green retirement village clearly showed that two thirds of older home owners would like to consider moving home ready for retirement but are prevented from taking that step either because there aren't sufficient appropriate properties to move to, or the costs to move far outweigh any benefit from doing so. ‘One of the solutions Saga has researched is allowing one stamp duty free move for those rightsizing for retirement which, according to independent economists CEBR, would release 111,000 family homes onto the market,’ said Green. ‘This is a win for older home owners who want to downsize, but also for younger families that want to move up the ladder and also for the exchequer. The research shows that by giving this tax free move it would be counterbalanced by an estimated £461 million of stamp duty that would be generated by the house sales that might otherwise not have taken place,’ he explained. ‘If we want to tackle the housing crisis we need to do so holistically. First time buyer schemes for the young are a good start, but we need to consider incentives to help encourage those that would like to move, to take that step. The FCA are right, we definitely need to do more and do it better, but using divisive language will only alienate the very people we need to help and encourage,’ he added. Continue reading

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