The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has launched an inquiry into whether the housing on offer in England for older people is sufficiently available and suitable for their needs.
The inquiry – launched ahead of the White Paper – follows research which indicates pensioners are stuck in oversized properties worth a collective £820bn if they could be released on the market.
The inquiry is launched against a backdrop of housing shortages, rising numbers of older people, pressures on adult social care and with just 2% of the country’s housing stock designed with older people in mind.
Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee, said: “Many pensioners may be interested in downsizing, but many are restricted from doing so by a lack of suitable options.
“As a committee we want to examine what the Government and local authorities can do to help expand housing supply for older people and ensure pensioners can live independent and fulfilling lives.
“Given the rising number of older people in England, there appears to be a glaring hole both in the housing market and in the way that authorities plan for the housing needs of older people. Getting this right could help to ease the housing shortage and improve well-being and reduce isolation for older people.”
Official data show that 8.1m properties, or 35pc of all homes in the country, are ‘under-occupied’, which is defined as having at least two spare bedrooms.
A study two years ago, by Legal & General and CEBR, claimed that if all of the 3.3m over-55s who are looking to downsize could find suitable homes, the shift would unlock 18% of the country’s property market.
Households headed by someone aged 65 or over are projected to increase by 155,000 per year.
The committee is seeking evidence, to be submitted via its website by March 24.