The predicament of the Neath 20 to 30 year olds who rent and their inability to get onto the housing ladder is often discussed in the press.
There are 4.43m properties in the UK that are still in the private rented sector (compared to 2.13m in 2002).
This group of people in their 20s and 30’s, who rent from a private landlord, are often called ‘Generation Rent’.
Yet would it surprise you that since 2017, the number of UK households in the private rented sector has reduced by 260,000 whilst the number of homeowners has increased by 1.1m?
In this article I want to talk about another set of people, not ‘Generation Rent’, but ‘Generation Stuck’.
Generation Stuck are our middle-aged and mature homeowners of Neath. They are the generation that could be described as late ‘Baby Boomers’ (born in late 1950s and early 1960s) and the early ‘Gen X’ (born in the mid 1960s to early 1970s).
These 50 to 64 year old people feel stuck in their Neath homes, and therefore I have nicknamed them ‘Generation Stuck’. Their inability to move could be holding back those younger Neath ‘Generation Renters’.
So, let me look at the numbers involved.
In Neath, there are 3,480 households, whose owners are aged between 50 and 64 years old and about to pay their mortgage off on property that is worth £575.51m.
There are an additional 4,642 mortgage free Neath households, owned by 50 to 64 year olds, worth £767.68m, meaning …
Neath ‘Baby Boomers’ and Neath ‘Gen X’ are sitting on £1,343.2m worth of Neath property.
According to the Census, 47.8% of homes occupied by 50 to 64 year olds have two or more spare bedrooms.
This is backed up by the annual English Housing Survey that states nationally, 49% of properties occupied by these ‘Generation Stuck’ are ‘under-occupied’.
Under-occupied is categorised as having at least two spare bedrooms.
Looking at the statistics closer to home
47.1% of Neath Port Talbot 50 to 64 year olds have two or more spare bedrooms, making it the 205th highest local authority in the country
(out of 348 local authorities).
The rising number of older Neath homeowners who want to downsize their Neath home are often held back by the lack of suitable housing options for older people and the difficulties of moving.
Lots of over 50 year old Neath people cannot move home in the way that they would like, due to a lack of suitable housing options and so can find themselves ‘stuck’ in homes which are no longer suitable for them as they age.
Only 1 in 29 people over the age of 50 move home each year, compared to 1 in 15 for the rest of the population.
Helping mature Neath homeowners (Generation Stuck) to downsize their homes at the right time will also allow younger Neath people (Generation Rent) to find the Neath family homes they need – meaning every generation wins, both young and old.
However, to ensure downsizing works, we need more choices for these “last-time-buyers”.
That means building more bungalows or more ground floor apartments suitable for the middle to older generation.
One way this could be done is by changing the planning rules to force builders to build these types of properties, whilst the other could be the changing of the Land Transaction Tax tax breaks for downsizers.
In this way, older Neath people will be more able to move into homes which suit their specific needs, improve their quality of life whilst meeting their goals in life, all without them becoming detached from their friends and family locally in the Neath area.
These are my thoughts, please let me know yours.