• New research shows 32% (c.172k) older people in the North East would consider moving from their existing property
  • 25% (c.134k[1]) of older people in the region think they will need to downsize
  • Barriers to access: 35% (c.188k[2]) of these think there should be more retirement housing available in the UK. And 17% (c.91k[3]) of older people in the North East feel that a stamp duty exemption for downsizing would encourage them to move

New research by the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, McCarthy Stone, has found that almost a third (32%) of older people in the North East, equating to an estimated 172k, would consider moving, with a quarter (25%) of retirees in the region – 134k  potentially needing to downsize.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic creating a strong desire to move home, McCarthy Stone’s research found that North East retirees felt there were too many barriers that disincentivised them to move.

The poll, conducted with YouGov, found that a lack of suitable housing options remained one of the primary barriers standing in the way of older people moving, with 35% of retirees, equating to an estimated 188k older people, calling for the UK to prioritise the development of more retirement housing solutions. Almost a fifth (17%) of North East retirees suggested that a stamp duty exemption for downsizing would significantly encourage them to move.

Removing these barriers to access for the elderly could also have significant economic implications too. If those who were keen to move were able to do so, it could free up over £12.6bn[4] in equity, with an average move freeing up c£74k. Furthermore, 25% (134k) would consider downsizing, equating to £9.8bn[5] in tied up equity which could go towards health-related care costs while also directly releasing a number of properties back onto the housing market to help those in the North East further down the property ladder.

McCarthy Stone has a strong foothold in the North East with a number of developments currently for sale in prime, town-centre locations. A selection include the likes of Seymour Court in South Shields, Herriot Gardens in Sunderland, Hewson Court in Hexham, and Swinden Court in Darlington. Each property has been designed exclusively for those aged 60 and over, with ease of living in mind. Enabling homeowners to make the most of an independent and active retirement, they can benefit from their own spacious and modern apartment, with an on-site communal lounge to spend time with neighbours if they wish. All the gardening and maintenance to the outside of the property is taken care of, meaning more free time for the things they enjoy. Door camera entry and a 24-hour emergency call system are for added peace of mind, and a friendly House Manager keeps everything running smoothly.

In total it operates 475 retirement communities around the UK for an estimated 20,000 older people. Divisional Sales and Marketing Director for the North East, Fiona Brookes, believes the issue can be addressed by a range of policy changes, including a stamp duty exemption for downsizers moving into a retirement community, the establishment of a Later Living Taskforce that looks at ways to build more suitable properties, and for the Government to work with Homes England, its housing delivery agency, to make 10% of their new housing designed specifically for older people.

Speaking on the results of the research, Fiona Brookes said: “Over the last few years, we have seen growing narratives that older people are “refusing to downsize” and “clogging up the housing market”. However, as these results show, this completely misses the mark. The reality is that for many older people in the North East there is a genuine desire to move and downsize, yet little has been done to encourage them to do so. If we are serious about protecting the interests of our ageing population, then the Government must rethink its approach to retirement housing to ensure we can begin to deliver the necessary supply.”

There are nearly 12.5 million people aged 65 or over and this is expected to increase as the UK faces an increasingly ageing population.  Currently, retirement housing makes up just 2% of the UK’s housing supply and just c.7,000 new properties are delivered a year[6]. This remains drastically short of demand which is estimated at 30,000 new properties a year.

Fiona Brookes adds: “It is time to move away from these narratives that only serve to exacerbate intergenerational conflicts and instead understand that enabling downsizing is about more than just furthering the interests of older people. If we can finally address the provision of retirement housing, we can begin to free up the market for younger generations and address the housing crisis once and for all.”

Over the last 12 months, the business has called on the Government to establish a Later Living Taskforce to comprehensively explore how to address the historic undersupply of suitable retirement housing in the UK and develop solutions for the delivery of more and better housing options for our ageing population. Most recently, Chris Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities welcomed the industry’s calls for the establishment of the Later Living Taskforce and it is hoped the Government will make an announcement shortly.

For more about McCarthy Stone developments in the North East, please visit: www.mccarthystone.co.uk