The housing crisis is often presented as a youth issue, couched in terms of intergenerational warfare, of old versus young. But it’s not just millennials suffering as a result of the crisis currently gripping this country – an increasing number of older people are affected too.
According to the English Housing Survey, the number of homes rented privately by people aged 55 and over has more than doubled over the past 15 years. By 2040, as many as one-third of 60-year-olds could be renting privately.
When it comes to the long-term effects the UK’s housing crisis will have, Polly Neate, chief executive at the housing charity Shelter, is stark. Neate told i the “toxic” combination at the heart of this housing crisis – rising private rents, welfare cuts and a serious shortage of social housing – is “a timebomb for older generations”.
“Not only is this crisis ruining retirement for hundreds of thousands, but it’s also making it impossible for our country to adapt for the future and meet the needs of our ageing population.”
Concern about the growing number of vulnerable older renters is building in Parliament, too. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ageing and Older People has been carrying out an enquiry into the detrimental impact of poor housing on older people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing. The housing campaign group Generation Rent recently gave evidence to the APPG after 32 per cent of responses to their most recent private renters survey came from tenants aged 55 or older. Seventeen per cent of responses came from renters aged over 65. Nearly two thirds of renters over 55 told Generation Rent they were spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. One in five reported paying more than 60 per cent, and many said they were having to borrow money to pay the rent.