Scotland’s retirees face significant property shortfall

People approaching retirement in Scotland are facing a significant financial property shortfall, according to new research.

UK planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore has published a report, entitled Later Living – Are We Planning for our Future?, which reveals that specialist UK retirement properties built so far have mostly been aimed at the better-off, while the majority of current and imminent retirees are far less wealthy.

Barton Willmore’s figures show that most new-build retirement flats and homes are aimed at those with £300,000 or more of property wealth. Yet the fastest growing demographic amongst older people across the UK is actually those with assets of under £163,000 when they retire.

Using the Government’s own data, the report calculated that up to 10.1 million people aged 43 to 65 are approaching retirement with too little housing provision – and warns that local planning authorities and the housing market need to work closer together if this shortfall is to be met.

In Scotland, the potential financial shortfall is even greater due to an average property wealth of just £110,000 across all age groups, amongst the lowest anywhere in the UK.

This is less than half the average property wealth of £240,000 across London and the South East
Stephen Tucker, partner at Barton Willmore in Scotland, said: ‘Today’s later living 65-plus property market is more targeted to the three million people aged within the more affluent groups that we identified, each with an average property wealth of more than £300,000.

‘Our analysis, however, shows that although this segment of the market is due to see strong growth over the next 20 years, it is the less affluent groups at the opposite end of the scale, with a property wealth of less than £163,000 that are set to grow to four times their current size over the same timeframe.

‘This area of the market – around 10 million people across the UK as a whole – represents a huge segment of the later living market, offering a significant challenge and opportunity. If the market does not address this segment’s needs and concerns, it is unlikely that the majority of these groups would be financially able to find the right level of retirement accommodation.’

He added: ‘This inability to find the right home at the right price means that people get stuck in the house they are in – and this has implications for the broader housing market that is already under providing across all sectors.

‘Well designed and thoughtfully planned home environments can forge strong communities for all ages. There is now a need for a more coordinated and considered approach to the delivery of retirement housing matching the specific needs and worth of older people through the planning system – rather than the more ad-hoc provision which currently takes place.’