Among the policies being advanced by the government’s housing strategy, is an idea to help older people to move into smaller houses.The idea that there is a shortage of homes in the UK may be exaggerated.
Truth is, around six million homes in the UK are bigger than their occupants need – or under-occupied.
If you define under-occupancy as a home in which there is a bedroom for each cohabitating couple, for any single person over 21, for each pair of adolescents aged 10-24 of the same sex, and for each pair of children under 10, plus two or more extra bedrooms, then there are roughly 6.8 million homes in the UK that fit into this category.
Maybe, to solve the housing crisis, we do not so much need to build more homes, as get retired people to live in smaller homes.
Or maybe, instead of building lots of family homes, we need smaller homes for retired people.
The housing minister, Gavin Barwell recently told Robert Peston on ITV that the government needs to focus on the demographic shift. He said: “If we can make it easier for elderly people to move into [sheltered housing schemes]… it releases family homes that we’re desperate for.
And maybe that is the shape of the future housing policy, that and supporting generation rent, of course.