General Election 2015: McCarthy & Stone CEO Clive Fenton wants a retirement housing plan

 
Clive Fenton
Clive Fenton is chief executive of McCarthy & Stone

ELECTION COUNTDOWN: 21 DAYS TO GO

Every day until the final week of the election campaign, we ask a business leader to say what policies would entice them to vote for a particular party.

CLIVE FENTON: CEO, MCCARTHY & STONE

Every political party claims the chronic housing shortage is critical in the UK, but current policy does not address the scale of the issue. There is great emphasis on first time buyers, as there should be, but what about last time buyers - the elder generation who want to downsize but are restricted by a lack of suitable housing? In the UK, 3.5m over-60s are interested in downsizing, according to Demos, but only 110,000 retirement properties have been built to buy.
■ I’d vote for a party which had a national strategy for retirement housing across all types and tenures.
■ I’d vote for a party which pledged to introduce stronger planning policies at local level to support the provision of retirement housing. At the moment just 14 per cent of local authorities have a suitable Local Plan policy in place.
■ I’d support a party that gave retirement housing special status, like affordable housing, because it releases much-needed family housing back into the market and frees up the chain for first time buyers.
It’s estimated there will be more than 10m empty bedrooms in the homes of the retired by 2026. Not everyone wants to downsize of course, but for those 3.5m who are interested there needs to be more choice - attractive, high-quality, specialist properties.
■ Additionally, a Stamp Duty exemption for older people who downsize would get my vote. The UK has one of the lowest moving rates among its over 65’s of all developed countries. An exemption would stimulate the market - offering a great incentive for those looking to downsize and enjoy retirement - and it wouldn’t cost the government anything.
In fact, research commissioned with the Institute of Public Care found the Treasury would receive a £650m windfall by creating new housing chains and other taxable income from the moving process.
■ Finally, a question: given the number of over-65s in the UK is expected to increase by more than 50 per cent in the next 20 years, to 17.2 m, is government doing enough to consider the specific needs of this group? I would like to see a dedicated Minister for Retirees who champions their agenda.
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