Plan to ‘downsize’ elderly ‘fraught with problems’

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A leading building firm’s suggestion the UK housing shortage could be ease by older people moving out of their homes has been questioned by a Leeds dementia campaigner.

Steve Secker, regional managing director for McCarthy & Stone, said a city the size of Leeds needs to be built every year to meet UK housing needs. He added 3.75m family-sized homes could be made available if older people ‘downsized’.

Mr Secker said the cost of a massive building programme could be funded through the £1.1 trillion of housing equity held by older people.

He said: “A super-sized building programme to meet this shortfall would not only release up to 3,750,000 existing and much-needed family-sized homes to tackle the UK’s family housing shortage but would also sustain 250,000 new construction jobs a year to 2033 and provide a significant boost to the economy.”

He said the House of Lords’ Ready for Ageing? report published in March revealed the UK’s specialist housing provision lags woefully behind other countries with just two per cent of housing stock built as retirement housing compared to 17 per cent in the USA and 13 per cent in New Zealand and Australia.

He added: “Releasing more homes for families will also benefit the entire housing chain by freeing up availability to second or third homers, and lead to more jobs as older homes are renovated and restored.”

But Peter Smith, who runs the Tea Cosy Memory Cafe in Rothwell for people with dementia, said: “The idea needs more thought - moving elderly people is fraught with problems, especially if they have dementia, where the best thing to do is to keep them in the same environment. Quite often, moving them means they become isolated and it’s a fact they often die as a result.”

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