Housing minister, Grant Shapps, has put forward proposals that would see councils helping elderly people to move to smaller, more manageable accommodation and their houses rented to families.
The council would arrange and manage the rental, with the income going directly to the elderly person. They would then pay the rent for their smaller property, and also pay for any care they need, without the need to sell their home.
The proposals would effectively solve two problems; reducing the housing shortage, and helping the elderly live independently for longer.
Mr Shapps proposal follows the largely successful government-backed FreeSpace pilot project run by Redbridge Council in east London.
The scheme would be voluntary, and would help older people to continue to live independently, whilst helping younger families to find an affordable property.
Mr Shapps said that for some older people, finding smaller, more suitable accommodation can make a “life-changing difference”.
Under its New Deal for Older People, the government is also providing an additional £20 million to pay for home adaptations so older people can live in their own homes for longer.
Whilst Labour are in support of the proposal, they have said that more affordable homes still have to be built. Shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, welcomed the scheme, but said the shortage of affordable housing had not arisen because the elderly were not able to downsize.