Housing experts are calling for a raft of reforms to improve older people’s quality of life by opening up shared ownership opportunities for affordable retirement living.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Housing and Care for Older People outlines its expert panel’s recommendations in a new report, ‘Making retirement living affordable: the role of shared ownership housing for older people’.

The report – written by The Smith Institute and supported by Housing 21 – proposes a package of reforms to improve and expand shared ownership schemes for the ‘squeezed middle’ retired homeowners who cannot afford to buy a more suitable home outright but have little chance of renting with a social housing provider.

The proposals aim to make ‘rightsizing’ accessible for the estimated 500,000 older person households who have some housing equity but are unable to afford to buy a retirement or extra care apartment on the open market.

Lord Best, Chair of the APPG Inquiry Panel, said: “With modifications, shared ownership could be a gamechanger in making ‘rightsizing’ an affordable option for thousands of people.

“Our inquiry recommends stronger consumer protection, access to good advice and a simpler grant system.

“With these changes, the shared ownership model could achieve the breakthrough needed to help large numbers move from family homes to more manageable, accessible, energy efficient homes and enjoy companionship and an active later life.”

Report recommendations include raising public awareness of shared ownership options, strengthening consumer protection for buyers and better support for ‘staircasing’ and re-sale of properties.

The report also proposes changes to improve the government’s grant-aided Older People’s Shared Ownership scheme, planning reforms to ensure delivery of different types of housing for older people and encouraging private investment to develop the sector.

Other proposals include research to better understand the diverse needs of under-served groups and recognition of the wider benefits of expanding older people’s shared ownership housing in freeing up family homes and delivering financial savings for health and care services.

Jeremy Porteus, Inquiry Panel Member and Chief Executive of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network said: “We need to improve the range of housing tenure options for older people. The SO-HAPPI report makes a forceful argument on how this can be delivered to boost the market.”