Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Fergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
The CSO quarterly national housing survey has shown there are approximately 50,000 people living alone in houses with four or more bedrooms. Obviously they are not all elderly but a significant number is elderly. Many retired people, over the age of 65, are living in homes they can no longer maintain. These people are asset rich but cash poor. I ask the Minister of State to look again at this issue. The supply of housing can be increased if we can find it attractive for people to move to smaller houses. I acknowledge the commitment from some local authorities to assist that process. As many new first-time younger buyers want to get on the market and 50,000 elderly people are in houses of four or more bedrooms there is an inequality in terms of market supply. If more people can be attracted out of those homes and into smaller homes and assisted in whatever way possible, that would be socially just, would be a constructive policy and would increase the supply of housing so that young families can get into the market. That is one of the issues that needs to be addressed. Will the Minister of State consider schemes for retired people over the age of 65 and ask his Department to research this area to make it more attractive for people to trade down?