New report reveals extent of ‘underused homes’

The Intergenerational Foundation has revealed in its Hoarding on Housing report that an estimated 25 million bedrooms across England are lying empty. In a time when much is made of the shortage of Britain’s housing and much is being done to increase the supply, some are suggesting that making more of these bedrooms available would go a long way to solving the issue.

The report indicated that the older generation was posing the greatest problem, finding that 51.5 per cent of over-65s live in homes with two or more surplus bedrooms. They claim that half of single households where the owner is aged over 60 have three spare bedrooms or more.

On a wider scale, more than one-third of homes, they say, are “under-occupied”, up from one-fifth in 1971. These are classed as households with at least two bedrooms more than they require.

The Intergenerational Foundation has been set up to campaign on financial issues, with a focus on those affecting younger people. They reputedly state that while many people are living longer and staying in what was once their family home, younger families are being squeezed into smaller properties.

Co-founder Angus Hanton is reported to have said:

“The ‘housing crisis’ is increasingly an issue of how our housing stock is shared between younger and older generations. The divide between the housing ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ has moved from being one dominated by wealth or class to one dominated by age.”

The report’s co-author Matthew Griffiths added:

“It is perfectly understandable that retired people cling to their home long after it has outlived its usefulness as a place to bring up a family in, but there are profound social consequences of their actions which are now causing real problems in a country where new house building is almost non-existent.”

The solution, they claim, is an exemption of stamp duty for over-60’s moving to a smaller property and an overhaul of the council tax system, to include, they have reportedly suggested, a new targeted land tax.

The foundation did state that they were not looking to ‘turf out’ older generations, but their comments have been met with much resentment from the older generations, particularly after it was revealed that Angus Hanton’s own parents live alone in a £1.5million five bedroom home.

More information on the report can be found on the Intergenerational Foundation website here.

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