Pensioners are the forgotten victims of Britain's housing crisis. That must change, writes Patrick O'Donnell

Older woman worried and house sale signs

Pensioners are more likely to be renters in the years to come with more than half at risk of falling into poverty

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Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell


Published: 16/06/2024

- 05:00

Britain is sleep-walking into an even bigger housing crisis than originally expected with pensioners at risk of falling into dire poverty

Pensioners are the forgotten victims of Britain's ongoing housing crisis and politicians need to act now to prevent more older people from being left behind.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending Independent Age's "Two million, two many" conference where I was able to speak to Britons directly who are being hurt by issues resulting from pensioner poverty.


The event's name comes from the statistic that two million older people in the UK are believed to be in poverty at the moment, with another two million expected to be in the same situation by 2040 without serious intervention.

Based on the charity's most recent report, pension poverty could increase from 17 per cent in 2022 to 23 per cent in 2040.

If poverty levels among people aged 65 or continue to change in line with annual trends since 2010, by this year 14 per cent of older women will live in the private rented sector.

Of this group, more than half of them (54 per cent) will be living in poverty.

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Future generations of pensioners will be unable to rent if the housing crisis continues

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According to the Independent Age, this hike in poverty rates is more likely to be greater among women compared to men.

Poverty for older women in the UK will go up from 20 per cent in 2022 to 26 per cent in 2040, if policymakers do not take action.

Furthermore, 61 per cent of older private renters with a disability and 76 per cent of older social renters with a disability are projected to possibly fall into poverty.

Notably, poverty rates among pensioners with a disability are expected to jump to 29 per cent by 2040, with the non-disabled older populace level forecast to hit 19 per cent in comparison.

The housing crisis is not just affecting the young. Waspi women are being forced to work past retirement age to pay for maintenance costs.

Pensioners are being priced out of their local areas due to a tough property market and lack of social housing.

All older people are increasingly at risk of paying tax on their pensions for the first time due to the "stealth tax raid" imposed through the allowance freeze.

This leaves less room for older people to pay for housing costs with more pensioners increasingly not owning their homes outright and being locked out of support through the benefits system.

While attending Independent Age's conference, I spoke with the charity's head of policy Morgan Vine on why MPs need to factor in pensioners when tackling the housing crisis.

She explained: "All general parties have been paying attention to housing and renters issues but I think the thing that has been missing so far is that there is also older renters.

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"Some of the solutions will help people of all ages who are renting but there are some additional, different barriers renters in later life will face.

"Things like not being able to potentially move house as fast, find a suitable property as quickly or the impact of leaving their community if they can no longer drive.

"I think more attention could be placed on renters of all ages, including by policymakers."

Hopefully, MPs take this warning seriously and put policies into effect which will address the growing housing crisis.

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