Government to offer bribes for elderly downsizing homes

Following on from our article yesterday, it has been revealed that the UK government is considering offering “bribes” to elderly people who downsize their properties. This is not the first time such a scheme has been discussed but why should those with larger properties feel forced to downsize? Are the elderly of today paying the price for governments starving the UK building sector of much-needed investment?

Government proposed scheme

At this moment in time ministers are being “careful with the truth” suggesting that older people living in larger homes may be offered sweeteners to downsize. The idea is that they would receive assistance with moving costs or perhaps a tax rebate which would then leave larger properties available for larger families. There are so many different elements to this argument which do not stack up and it appears yet again to be a headline grabbing move but something which will very soon be kicked into the long grass.

Why should older people feel under pressure to move?

The idea that older people living in larger properties, which they have bought themselves, are in some way stopping larger families from finding suitable accommodation is just wrong. Many have worked years to purchase their dream property and while they may be sitting on a significant profit, home is home. True, there are a significant number of elderly couples living around the UK in large properties which were once vibrant family homes before their siblings left to start their own lives. However, surely if those being discussed had wanted to downsize they would have done it under their own steam without any government incentives?

Who would buy these newly available properties?

It is all good and well suggesting there is a shortage of suitable property for large families in the UK but how many could afford the market rate? The vast majority of those looking to acquire their first home are struggling to even climb aboard the ladder let alone look at larger properties. This then begs the question, if these properties are available, if there are families suitable for these properties but they cannot afford them, does the government step in with yet another incentive scheme?

On one hand we could have the government incentivising elderly couples to downsize, subsidising moving costs or offering tax rebates, while offering financial assistance to families moving to these properties who could not normally afford them. If this was the case, then why would the UK government simply not invest much-needed capital into the housebuilding market to build suitable affordable property for the current and the future UK market?

Yet more hot air from the politicians

The Conservative party has grabbed the headlines today, the Labour Party has said this is not enough and other politicians have joined the argument. Quite how they feel justified in “forcing” elderly couples from their homes, offering taxpayer subsidies and then, assuming there is no big change in the affordability factor, assisting buyers, is a mystery.

It is all good and well grabbing the headlines, looking to “do something” but this is likely to be yet another scheme kicked into the long, long, long grass very soon.

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