Housing and Homelessness

Affordability of Retirement Housing in the UK

  • Published 4th Sep 2012
  • Category: Housing and Homelessness

This study looks at how we measure affordability and which older people, in a society where the state provides a minimum income to pensioners, can and cannot afford to live in retirement housing. Through the analysis of income data, price data and government policies it found that:

  • The Guarantee Credit component of Pension Credit and other state help provides pensioners with a minimum income ‘floor’ after eligible housing costs. As such, pensioners should be able to live in retirement housing, with a residual income at or above this floor.
  • Middle-income pensioners not entitled to state help are liable to spend the largest proportion of their income on retirement housing. But the structure of state help ensures that their remaining income is not lower than those pensioners receiving means-tested benefits.
  • Pensioners may find that some retirement housing costs are not eligible for state help, because of their level of savings, their tenure or how these costs are classified.
  • Owner-occupiers and private tenants, regardless of income, often do not get help with the many small costs incurred in retirement housing which are covered for most social tenants. Social renters are much more likely to get state help with these costs.
  • The complexity and inconsistencies of different eligibility and entitlement systems for state help with housing, housing-related support or home care combine to make the financial prospects of living in retirement housing daunting and uncertain. It is difficult for those considering retirement housing to know if, and at what stage, they would receive any support. Systems also vary across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


About this report
This report was commissioned by AGE UK and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and written by Hannah Aldridge, Peter Kenway and Jenny Pannell.The facts presented and views expressed in this report are those of the authors.