Older residents 'should divide homes’ after crisis drives wedge between generations

Housing crisis drives wedge between older and younger generations, according to new research.
Housing crisis drives wedge between older and younger generations, according to new research.
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The housing crisis is driving a 'geographic wedge' between older and younger generations in Sheffield, according to new research.

Those behind the report said a rise in 'age segregation' amid a lack of suitable and affordable homes in cities including Sheffield has been hugely damaging to society, weakening the bond between different age groups.

In a potentially controversial move, they suggested that older generations should be offered help to subdivide their existing houses, to foster 'greater intergenerational living', along with the building of more homes suitable for downsizing.

Across England and Wales, the number of neighbourhoods in which half the population is aged over 50 has surged since 1991, the research from the Intergenerational Foundation (IF) found.

Sheffield, along with Leeds, Cardiff, Brighton, Nottingham and Southampton, were identified by the report as age segregation 'hotspots'.

In 1991 there were just 65 such neighbourhoods. This had increased to 485 by 2014, 60 per cent of which were rural, the report said.

Within urban areas, older people, children and young adults are also living increasingly separately, according to the research.

The research states: “The housing crisis is driving a geographic wedge between the generations.

“It means that older and younger generations are increasingly living apart.”

The report identified Cardiff, with its large student population, as 'the most age segregated city in England and Wales'.

Angus Hanton, IF co-founder said: “Just five per cent of the people living in the same neighbourhood as someone under 18 are over 65, compared to 15 per cent in 1991.

"This is hugely damaging to intergenerational relations. It weakens the bonds between the generations, and leads to a lack of understanding of, and empathy for, other generations.”

Nigel Wilson of Legal & General, which supported the research, added: “We have created an intergenerationally unfair society. We need to take bold steps to reverse the negative trends of the last 30 years.

“This will involve not only an increase in housing supply of 100,000 a year of all tenures, but also a step up in investment in modern infrastructure.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said nearly 900,000 homes had been built since the end of 2009. A spokesman said: “We’ve also set out the largest housebuilding programme since the 1970s, doubling the housing budget so we can build a million extra homes.”