Press release

Ros Altmann comments on the Intergenerational Foundation report

Thursday 20 October 2011

"The idea that older people are 'hoarding housing' and 'clinging onto housing' has come across as quite offensive to older people and I can understand why" said Dr Ros Altmann, Director General of Saga "the implication is that they don't deserve to live in the house they're in!" 

"The suggestion that if you live in a three bedroom house you should only need one room as you get older is wrong. There are many occasions when couples, or individuals need extra space to accommodate overnight visitors.  For example some have Carers or family that may need to stay overnight if they are ill, some regularly have children or grandchildren staying with them, there are also many couples who, for health reasons, find themselves needing separate bedrooms.

"The Analysis on which this research is based is, in my view, somewhat questionable. Having said that, it does make sense for people, as they get older, to consider whether they want to live somewhere else, but this must be entirely their choice.  The biggest problem that we have in the UK is that the existing housing stock simply doesn't reflect the needs of an ageing population.   New build properties are usually designed with the young in mind, not older people. What we really need is purpose built housing - that is still of a reasonable size - that would encourage people to downsize if they want to, something that is in scant existence at this moment in time.

"The second issue is that Local Authorities have long term strategies and planning in place to provide affordable housing for young families with children.  There is no such planning for our ageing society.  This is something that is sadly missing in our society and it's this that we should be focused on.

"I am also concerned about the potential for inter-generational conflict in an economy that has encouraged younger people to take on more debt than they can afford in order to purchase a house.  If house prices are too high, then this is an entirely separate issue from suitable and appropriate accommodation. 

"The family home is about so much more than just bricks and mortar.  It's wrong to highlight older people who live in a three bedroom house and somehow say they don't deserve to be in it"